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Bill Kirby Jr.: Matriarch of Grace’s Hallmark leaves a legacy all her own


All of us knew where we could find that special card for a loved one, be it a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation, a get-well-soon or a condolence.

A Christmas card, a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day card, and certainly Valentine’s Day.

“I met Grace when I moved to Fayetteville as a newlywed in the 1960s and shopped in her small Hallmark store located in the lower section of the Eutaw Shopping Mall,” Sybil West says. “I always called her ‘Gracious Grace’ because of her affectionate smile and her gracious manner to acknowledge every person she met.”

Grace Henderson was like that — a gracious woman.

Her name was synonymous for just about everyone who found themselves in her Grace’s Hallmark businesses or for those who came to know Grace Henderson at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church or Cross Creek Briarwood Garden Club.

“Though she’s not here, she lives on in us through her legacy,” the Rev. Bruce Herrmann, associate pastor at Grace Henderson’s beloved Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, would pray and tell those who came Wednesday to pay their final respects and bid Grace Henderson on her way. “Through life lessons, we learned through her words and deeds as we witnessed how she lived her life well. While we’ll miss her, our hearts are full of thanksgiving that you, Lord, provided her a long, fulfilling life that continues with you in heaven.” 

Born in the foothills of Catawba County, Grace Miller was attending school in Charlotte when she fell in love and married D.W. Henderson. Grace Henderson, like so many young women of her generation, would become an Army wife, and the couple found themselves from the Philippines to Alaska during his military service before the handsome serviceman retired in this city, where they would raise a daughter and a son.

“Grace and D.W. purchased a bakery they operated for about five years after D.W. retired,” Herrmann would remind those who on Wednesday attended a Celebration of Life for Grace Henderson.

“Then they opened the Country Peddler. A name change occurred in 1976, when they added a personal touch partnering with Hallmark to open Grace’s Hallmark.

And it was hers

“D.W. handled the bills, and she let him do the worrying,” the pastor would say. “Grace made the customers feel like family and greeted everyone with a smile.”

Life was good for the couple who called the Scotty Hills neighborhood home.

And Grace’s Hallmark would become a business staple in the community, and the business would gain recognition as one of Hallmark’s top 100 businesses and Grace Henderson would be honored in 2005 as Fayetteville’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

“Grace’s Hallmark has remained a Fayetteville tradition,” the pastor would say. “Grace always wanted to look her best as she met her customers, family and friends at the store, in the community and at church. The cliché is true, she was beautiful inside and out.”

A woman of faith

Grace Henderson’s faith was at the core of her life.

“I have known Grace Henderson for many years and her family, too,” says Judy Dawkins, a longtime member of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. “Grace sang in the Snyder Memorial Baptist Church choir with a smile on her face and in her heart because she was worshipping our God and Jesus Christ. Their family is an example of love to our church members and to everyone.”

Grace Henderson had an unbridled belief in her faith and shared that faith with others.

“She was a prayer warrior,” Herrmann would say. “She was a part of Snyder’s prayer ministry. If someone asked for prayer or a need became known, the team added it to a prayer notebook. She knew a voiced prayer for others was an act of love and a way to communicate with her heavenly Father. Prayer deepened her relationship with God, but also with her prayer partners and those she prayed for.”

Grace Henderson was an active member of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church on Westmont Drive for more than 50 years and loved serving with the Women’s Mission Union and her Heart-to-Heart Sunday school class and being a part of the church’s annual Singing Christmas Tree until 2017.

“There was never any doubt, Grace loved Christmas,” the preacher would say. “She loved the cooking and every part of celebrating Christ’s birth with family. Part of her celebration included praising God as she sang in Snyder’s Singing Christmas tree. … Christmas also brought the joy of getting out the ornaments to decorate her tree. Hallmark is known for its cards but also for its many ornament series.”

And Grace Henderson, the preacher would say, knew her ornaments.

“When Connie thought she was through putting the ornaments on the tree,” Herrmann would say, “Grace would survey the tree and could tell if some were missing, sending her to find the box of missing ornaments.”

Grace Henderson’s home was an annual tradition for the Cross Creek Briarwood Garden Club’s annual Christmas meeting.

“Grace always opened her beautifully decorated home to the garden club for our Christmas meeting,” Sybil West says. “It is there under the ‘Hallmark-themed’ Christmas tree that we place the stuffed animals that we collect each year for sick children at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.” 

Daily devotionals were a part of Grace Henderson’s life, too.

“Reading scripture was an important part of Grace’s day,” Herrmann would say. “She read the Bible cover to cover numerous times. The legacy Grace leaves mirrors life lessons she learned through attending church and reading her Bible. Lessons taught to her children and grandchildren as they were witnessing her go about her daily tasks at home, work, in our community and at church.”

Grace Miller Henderson died May 12 in her home.

She was 94.   


Grace’s Hallmark in Highland Centre was open Wednesday on the day when family and friends came to say their farewells to this businesswoman who made and leaves a lasting hallmark of her own in this community.

Someone, you see, has a birthday coming up. A couple is celebrating a wedding anniversary. There’s someone in the hospital who could use a “get well soon” card and encouragement that better days are ahead. There’s a celebration somewhere, when only a card from Grace’s Hallmark will do.

Grace Henderson would have had it no other way.

And, if you will, I’ve known Grace Henderson’s daughter and son since 1968. Connie Henderson Michaels was a loving and caring daughter to her mother. Son Dan Henderson was proud to be her son all his life.

“Grace lived a wonderful life,” Herrmann would say. “A full life and abundant life in Christ. Oh, the things she was able to see and experience over her 90-plus years. She graciously modeled the importance to us all of family, faith and treating everyone with love and respect.

“She passes on that legacy, but also the legacy of her name.”

“Grace,” the pastor would close this celebration of a life that touched so many. “What an appropriate name for our friend.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.