Mrs. Henrietta Hatton Clark founded the Henderson Institute Graduates and Former Students Association in 1986. Mrs. Clark and Mrs. Ruth Burt, both former Board Members, reached out to the State Board of Education with a request for ownership of the Henderson Institute Library Science Building located on the former Henderson Institute High School campus. The State Board agreed to lease the land to the Association if they would create a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit Organization. They agreed and proceeded to comply with the request.
As a result, a nonprofit was created, and the Associate took ownership of the building that operates as the Henderson Institute Historical Museum.
Mrs. Clark was born on a farm in Vance County on September 19, 1914. She was the youngest of six children. She attended elementary school in Vance County and graduated from Henderson Institute. Back then, the high school was supervised by the Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Clark attended college at what was then called Winston-Salem Teachers College. She played on the Women’s basketball team in college.
Mrs. Clark attended the university from 1935 to 1939. During that time, student enrollment was 550 with 22 faculty members, and they only offered a BS in Education. Today, registrations exceed 5,000 with more than 400 faculty members and over 70 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Equipped with a teaching degree, Mrs. Clark embarked on a journey to make the world a better place. She taught in Vance County Public Schools for several decades, where she shaped generations of young minds. She was the first African American Teacher in Vance County to receive employment at an all-white public school. Her passion and ambition did not stop when the school day ended. She had membership in numerous organizations, including the Daisy Garden Club (a founding member), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the NAACP, and Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church. She also served as Moderator of Women at the Church.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Mrs. Clark led voter registration drives and worked to integrate department store lunch counters in Henderson. She also served on committees that advocated for state judicial appointments to diversify the bench. Additionally, she was a long-term member of the Vance-Granville Community College Board of Trustees.
In 2018, the Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) made a trip to the Whitmore Retirement Center in Oxford, NC, to visit Mrs. Clark, the university’s oldest living Alumni. The Chancellor was excited about his visit and enjoyed meeting Mrs. Clark. He told the Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball Team about his visit and directed her to pay a follow-up visit, which led to Mrs. Clark's induction into the WSSU Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Mrs. Clark remained an active member of Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church until her demise in March 2021. Her membership continued to bring joy, peace, and happiness throughout her remarkable life. Members of the Church and community held Mrs. Clark in high esteem. They were honored to have worked with her for decades.
Mrs. Clark was 106 years old at the time of her death and lived at the assisted living facility, Whitmore Retirement Center, in Oxford, North Carolina.< Back