Pearl Davis Henderson was born Jan. 19, 1928, to William (Bill) and Elsie Davis in Kennett, Mo.
Her love for wildlife began squirrel hunting with her dad when she was just 5 years old. At 10 years old, and the only girl in 4-H Club at the time, she raised a Poland China pig.
Graduating from Beebe High School in 1945, Pearl worked supporting the World War II effort at the Ford, Bacon and Davis Defense Plant by producing ammunition and placing powder pellets in detonation caps. She went on to work at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in Sunflower, Kan., which produced rocket powder that was crucial to the war effort.
Upon her return to Arkansas, she married Lloyd Henderson on July 27, 1947. They had a son, Wayne, who was born April 24, 1949. Together, Lloyd and Pearl established Henderson Red Poll Cattle Farm which operated into the 1970s. They also raised rabbits. They were members of the Arkansas Red Poll Cattle Club and she served as an officer in the Rabbit Club.
She became active in several community organizations beginning with the Extension Homemakers Club in 1948 of which she served as president multiple times. She was also a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary in which she served several leadership roles and was a TOPS member and president.
Always enterprising, she was truly a pioneer for her time in many endeavors. Ordering a $12 taxidermist kit for her son, it went unused. A daughter of the Depression era, Pearl was never one to squander money. She taught herself taxidermy, using the unused kit, and turned it into opportunity. She had been practicing taxidermy for 11 years when the National Taxidermists Association, of which she was one of the 50 founding members, was established. She made many lifelong friendships in the organization but her friendship with founding members Charlie and Lola Haynes was the friendship of a lifetime. Pearl went on to establish the Arkansas Taxidermist Association in 1981.
Her work on a stillborn two-headed calf became NTA’s first demonstration at the first meeting in 1972. In her 50-plus years of her work, she won many awards culminating with the prestigious Pioneer Award.
Pearl is survived by her sister, Loretta Bass; sister-in-law, Clara Sentell; granddaughter, Angela; grandsons, Michael, Wayne Jr., Doug and Sean; 11 great-grandchildren; eight great-great-grandchildren; two favorite nieces, Teresa and Linda; and her special friends, the “Gym Gang.”
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Lloyd; son, Wayne; sister, Marlene; grandson, David Henderson; and great-grandson, Adam Martin.
Pearl’s motto was from Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Pearl was a hard worker, humorous and loved travel with friends and family. She also loved to party and that is why she is known as Party Girl Pearl.
Memorials may be made to Arkansas Taxidermy Association, 138 Trapper Lane, Hot Springs, AR 71913.
Visitation was held from 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, with the funeral service following at 2 p.m. at Smith-Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. State of Arkansas COVID-19 directives: Face coverings required at all times, maintain social distancing. Arrangements by Smith-Westbrook Funeral Home.