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Ilah G. Henderson

Ilah Gay Henderson passed away May 25,2022. She was born in Tyner, Indiana on August 27, 1935 to the late Haven and Lennia Reid. After moving to the Kalamazoo area during her childhood she later met and married her best friend and love of her life, Howard Henderson.

God was always first in her life, followed closely by her wonderful family. She was an active church goer her entire adult life at Fourth Reformed Church and later Martin Reformed.

Ilah was a stay-at-home mom during the early years of her children’s lives, but as they grew older she held various positions at local green houses, assisted the Oakwood Methodist Church food pantry, and worked for Kit Moss Productions. Ilah was awarded the Kalamazoo County Silver Salute Award from the Extension Home Economics Program of Michigan State University where she volunteered for more than 10 years in the Kalamazoo Association of the Extension Homemakers by serving on the council and chairing several projects. Her service included teaching food preservation via the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program and being a resource on herbs, easy elegant entertaining, and the Michigan court system. For several years in the 90’s she assisted with coordination of the Kalamazoo area CROP Hunger Walk to assist communities around the world who suffer from hunger, poverty, displacement, and disaster.

Ilah and Howard were avid world travelers. In the 80’s they visited the United Kingdom on several occasions. In the 90’s they extended their travels to include Australia, Egypt, and Israel. Ilah traveled to Honduras & Belize with Church World Services. The traveling didn’t end as they grew older, they went on many cruises in the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. After traveling to Florida in 1994 with Samaritan Purse to provide services for those effected by Hurricane Andrew, they began to make yearly trips to Panama City Beach for the winter for well over a decade.

An avid historian for her own family throughout her life, Ilah later became a trustee and historian for the Oshtemo Historical Society. She found joy restoring, teaching, and working open houses of the Drake House. Throughout her life she also enjoyed painting, reading, gardening, fishing, family vacations to amusement parks, and spending time with family and friends.

Ilah is survived by her daughter Lori Pierce and son-in-law William MacArthur. Her grandchildren John (Susie) MacArthur, Kurt (Chrissy) Mitchell, Elyse (Zac) Green, Justin (Jessica) MacArthur, and Lillian MacArthur. God blessed her with 6 great-grandchildren Cameron, Ian, and Abigail MacArthur, Lucas and Aurelia Mitchell, and Henry MacArthur.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 65 years Howard Henderson, two of their children Daniel Henderson and Julie MacArthur, and brothers Haven Jr. and Eugene.

A private service is planned for this summer. Ilah would love to be honored by donations to the Oshtemo Historical Society or by opening your heart with simple act of kindness for another individual.

While at www.amsfuneralhomes.com please take time to sign Ilah’s guestbook and/or share a memory with her family.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ilah Henderson, please visit our flower store.


I first met Ilah at an Oshtemo Historical Society meeting. Ilah made an effort to come and sit by me, and we soon found out that we shared many common interests. We had both worked for MSU's Extension program helping families with nutrition, budgeting and recourses available to them, along with using our teaching skills to educate families in simple practical ways. Ilah's interest and kindness sparked me to join the OHS and sit on the board where we shared ideas and I admired her energy and enthusiasm for history and families. I loved Ilah's wisdom, ideas but mostly her heart and respect of education. We also both also had in common our love of travel and could talk enjoyably about Central America and other places we had visited, about cultures, history and yes, poverty and it's impacts . Ilah was and is a wonderful Spirit and I miss her as many of us do. Blessings on your journey Ilah, I will think of you often and continue our love of education and travel. I also send loving kindness and heart felt condolences to so many people helped along their life's journey by Ilah.

Tricia Babladelis Jun 23 2022 7:25 AM

Keeping you all in prayer. She was a blessing and enriched so many lives.

Kim & Jean Bourner Jun 7 2022 11:29 AM

Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

Kathy Kronke Jun 6 2022 9:07 PM

A candle was lit in memory of Ilah Henderson

Rick Rich Jun 6 2022 8:46 AM

Our thoughts & prayers are with your dear family.

Phyllis Dunn Jun 4 2022 10:27 PM

A candle was lit in memory of Ilah Henderson

Jeanne (Hill) Washburn Jun 4 2022 3:51 PM

Ilah was my first cousin but throughout my life she was more like an older sister and I loved her dearly. She played with me when I was young and guided me when I was older. She was always my protector and for a short time I lived with her and Howard in Florida. We spent as much time together as we could in our later years and communicated almost daily. My heart is broken and I will miss my precious pal.

Janie Macintosh Jun 4 2022 11:24 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Ilah Henderson

Judy Crippin Jun 4 2022 7:40 AM