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Published: July 20, 2021


Donald “Don” Lee Henson passed away at his home Thursday evening, July 15, at the age of 80.  A long-time resident of Knoxville, Tennessee and especially well-known in the Karns community, he taught and coached at Bearden Junior High School and Northwest Middle School in the Knox County School System for more than thirty years. 

Don was born on February 4, 1941, in Lawrenceburg, TN to the late Leonard “Dick” and Alene Clayton Henson.  While still a high school student, he left home and joined the Army National Guard.  Following his military service, he returned home and graduated from Lawrence County High School. Don was awarded a football scholarship to the University of TN where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education. On August 22, 1964 he married his high school sweetheart, Lillian Lanning Henson.

Don is survived by his wife of 56 years ~ Lillian Lanning Henson of Knoxville; a daughter ~ Holly Peters (Bart) of Princeton Kentucky; a son ~ Lee Henson (Brandi) of Knoxville; a brother ~ Jack Henson (Mary) of Woodhaven Michigan; a sister ~ Linda Hargrove of Willis Michigan; a sister in law ~ Gracie Henson of Lawrenceburg; four grandchildren ~ Lindsey Rose (Aaron) of Elizabethtown Kentucky, Macy Byrd of Paducah Kentucky, Raley Henson of Knoxville, Eden Henson of Knoxville, and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents ~ Leonard “Dick” and Alene Clayton Henson; two brothers ~ James Henson and Billy Henson; and a brother-in-law ~ Willie Hargrove. 

 Don was devoted to his family, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, Karns High School Basketball, traveling, playing cards, and golfing.  You could always find him at his grandchildren’s activities ~ piano or dance recitals, band concerts, tennis lessons, basketball practice and games, or shopping at the mall.  If you called him Don, Coach, Mr. Henson, Daddy, or Happy, he always answered with a smile and enjoyed all that life had to offer. His nickname of “Happy” truly described his kind, friendly and generous personality.  Don was a loving man who enriched the lives of everyone he met.  He will be lovingly remembered and dearly missed. 

Graveside Services will be held Saturday, July 24th at 2:00pm at Mimosa Cemetery in Lawrenceburg, TN with Mr. Bill Burks officiating.


Memorial contributions may be made to: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 Or The Girls and Boys Clubs of Knoxville, 240 E. Baxter Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917.