Former Palo Alto Mayor Alan Henderson dies at 89

Alan Henderson the mayor of Palo Alto who was known as a champion for environmental and social causes, died on Sept. 13 after suffering a stroke. He was 89.

As a moderate city councilman and member of numerous boards in Palo Alto, Henderson fought for open space preservation, restrictions on new development, bike lane implementation and affordable child care. Over the years his work garnered him the city's top honors, including a Tall Tree Award and an Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement award.

Paul Alan Henderson was born on June 20, 1925, in San Francisco. Until age 6 he lived in Burlingame with his parents and older brother, Richard. The Depression forced the family to move to Sacramento, where his father could work with his grandfather at Henderson's Delicatessen.

Henderson was a World War II vet, serving in Okinawa in 1945 and then later General MacArthur's Tokyo headquarters in 1946. In Tokyo, he volunteered at a Methodist orphanage and a school and sang in several performances with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

After returning to the U.S., he resumed his studies at Stanford, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He sat on the Palo Alto City Council from 1971 to 1975 and 1977 to 1981 and served as mayor from 1979 to 1981 and twice as vice mayor. As a moderate, he favored controlling the city's growth but was still willing to work with the other side.

He is survived by two children, Nancy Henderson (Ivars) Peterson of Washington, D.C., and Wayne Alan Henderson of San Diego; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren -- as well as four step-children, 11 step-grandchildren and a step-great-grandchild.