Detroit— Angelo Henderson filled many roles in his 51 years — award-winning journalist, minister, ardent community activist.
But woven into each was his passionate commitment to helping others, said friends, family and dignitaries who honored him at his funeral Monday.
“Angelo lived a life of service only to uplift the people around him,” attorney Arnold Reed told mourners at Greater Grace Temple on the city’s west side.
Hundreds of people packed the church to honor Henderson, who died Feb. 15 at his Pontiac home.
More than a dozen speakers, including local political, business and community leaders, saluted him during an elaborate service that lasted nearly four hours.
Throughout the often emotional service, speakers stressed Henderson’s dedication to Detroit and willingness to work for change.
“He’s not just a thinker and a writer — he’s a doer, and that’s what we need a lot more of,” said U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit.
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones said Henderson’s “life and legacy will continue to live on. ... We have lost a giant of a man who loved the city and gave his all for its citizens.”
Henderson’s legacy stretches from journalism to religion to community improvement. A former Detroit News writer, he is the only African-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize for the Wall Street Journal, for his 1999 portrait of a Detroit druggist driven to violence by his encounters with armed robbery.
Journalism colleagues said Henderson left an indelible mark on his field.
“We have truly lost an icon,” said Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, in which Henderson long was active.
After his newspaper career, Henderson became even more prominent locally as host of “Your Voice With Angelo Henderson” on WCHB-AM 1200, one of Detroit’s most popular news talk radio shows. He also helped launch the Detroit 300, a community group that aimed to combat crime in the city.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig recognized Henderson as remaining “on the front line,” calling him “a courageous leader, a hero and a trailblazer.”
Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation described it another way: “He did the hard work and the heart work.”
Atop a stage fronted by flowers, a brief presentation of video clips, photographs and sound bites showed Henderson on the streets, at the microphone and working with others.
“He was just extraordinary,” said Joan Beatty, a Detroit resident, activist and entrepreneur who attended the service. “He was our voice to be heard.”
Henderson also was known for his faith. He was an associate minister at Triumph Church, where he was community outreach director, and previously served as an associate pastor at Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield.
Born in Louisville, Ky., to the late Ruby and Roger Henderson, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 1985 from the University of Kentucky.
In 2005, Henderson was inducted into the school’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. He studied magazine publishing at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Relatives said his talent for multitasking was evident in his youth — as were his other skills.
“He has shown us what it is to put 150 years of dedicated work into 50 years of life,” said the Rev. J. Alfred Smith Jr., his brother-in-law.
Henderson is survived by his wife, Felecia, an assistant managing editor at The News, and their 20-year-old son, Grant.
In his memory, associates vowed to continue serving the community.
“It’s the most important thing I can think of,” said Duane Jones, who served with him in the Detroit 300.