To Frank: A life well lived

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Only a few weeks into his new job, the editor of this newspaper had just published a controversial column. That was late 2001, and Frank Henderson stopped by his office without an appointment.

Standing inches from the editor, he briefly introduced himself. He said that among other things, he had a background in newspapers and a direct connection to the Hagadone Corporation.

"I'm going to go over and talk to Duane Hagadone next, but I wanted you to know what I'm going to tell him," Henderson said to the puzzled editor. "I'm going to tell him he needs to fire you."

That's two important things to know about Henderson, whose death late Monday night brought instant sorrow to countless residents, including a certain newspaper editor. Frank was always going to say and do what he thought best. And he wouldn't do it behind your back, either.

Frank Henderson was a bantamweight who floored giants. He feared no man, and no issue. He tap-danced around nothing. He was North Idaho's version of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who implored the greatest sailors the world has ever known to "never mind maneuvers. Always go straight at 'em."

If the adjectives "brusque," "inflexible" and "opinionated" sometimes shadowed him, so did "decisive," "no-nonsense" and "effective." Frank wasn't the wishy-washy, flip-floppy sort. His objective was always to make something better, and if you weren't inclined to help him, you'd best get the hell out of the way.

As a legislator, while some of his peers were getting lost in the brambles and thickets of ideology, Henderson was laser-focused on improving the business environment in Idaho. No fan of government handouts, Frank was an unwavering champion for good jobs, for education leading to those good jobs, for strengthening Idaho's economic base and putting as many people as possible into position to prosper.

In thinking about our friend Frank, we're reminded of his characterization as the miniature Star Wars sage, Master Yoda. And that reminds us of one of Yoda's great sayings: "Do, or do not. There is no try."

Frank Henderson spent damn near a century doing.

And now he's fired. Fired from the pains and strains of mortality. Promoted to a higher plane.

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