She might be the oldest person to ever win the Wendell Mayor’s Award.
Elizabeth Henry, who operated Elizabeth’s Antiques in Wendell for more than 70 years, was named the winner of the Wendell Mayor’s Award last Thursday during the Wendell Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.
Henry, who turned 100 earlier this year, told the crowd when she arrived at the podium that she couldn’t even hear her introduction. But she, no doubt, saw the smiles and heard the applause that filled the Wendell Community Center when her name was called.
Henry has seen the town of Wendell change a lot during her years in business. She first opened her shop on U.S. 64, before moving it to a new location in the back of her husband’s business. She later moved the company to a shop her husband had built in their back yard. Finally, she moved to her most public location, in a shop on Main Street, where she operated the business for more than 25 years.
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Henry’s business required her to make monthly trips to New England, no small feat in the early days of the business. But she perservered and built the business into one that attracted not only Wendell customers, but shoppers from across the region.
“I cannot overlook the fact that she was doing a great job creating economic development, something we work very hard on still today,” Mayor Ginna Gray said in introducing Henry. “She was surely ahead of her time.”
Henry’s contributions to the community haven’t just been limited to her work life. She was also a former president of the Wendell Woman’s Club and Wendell Baptist Church, where she served as a Sunday school teacher. During the time she ran her own business, Henry also worked as the bookkeeper for Wendell Ford Motor Company.
The length of Henry’s service to Wendell caught Gray’s eye as she looked through the applications, all of which she said were for deserving nominees.
“Can you just imagine al the things she’s seen over those 71 years of business,” Gray asked the crowd.
Elizabeth Henry, and her husband Marshall, have two children, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
The Mayor’s Award has been presented each year since 1971 when Mayor Proc Dean established the award. It is intended to recognize residents of Wendell who are not necessarily in the public eye, but who play an important role in the promotion of the town’s quality of life.
The first winner of the award, Dot Riggins, was also in attendance at Thursday night’s banquet to see Henry honored.