Obit: Susan Ann Henley

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2014

 Susan Ann Henley

Susan Ann Sheldon “Butch” Henley died on May 21, 2014.

Born to Russell Holmes Sheldon and Marion J. Sherrick Sheldon, Nov. 25, 1932 in Dunkirk, Ohio, she moved to Washington D.C. at age 18 to work for the FBI. Seeking a horse to ride, she met her husband the late Vincent Eslett Henley at Rock Creek Riding Stables and they settled in Northern Virginia. While working full-time, they reared four children, five horses, many cats and several dogs. 

Their offspring are Julie Whittaker (Mitchell) of Mocksville; Russell Henley (Nick) of Northern Virginia; Shelly Schade, (Phill) of Marshall, Va.; and Timothy Henley (Beth) of Fayetteville. Family also includes 4 grandchildren and a great-grandchild, Marshall Whittaker, Suzy Schade with son Gage, Molly Whittaker and Megan Whittaker. 

She became a Girl Scout leader in 1961, sharing her love of the out-doors with Girl and Boy Scouts while training their leaders in camp skills. She volunteered for the American Red Cross, teaching canoe, kayak and water safety skills. Her children reared, she pursued her dream to backpack the Appalachian Trail. In 1978, at the age of 46, she completed the 2,100 mile AT, hiking from Georgia to Maine in 9 months. Upon her return, she read an announcement in Backpacker Magazine about Hik-a-Nation, an effort developed by the American Hiking Society. The 4,147 mile trek from the Pacific to the Atlantic took 13 months, April 1980-May 1981 to walk, started with more than 100 hikers and finished with 35, she among them. Still adventurous, but with worn out knees, she took up bicycling.In 1985, she rode from Washington State to Florida with some trail friends. She would joke everything was fine until she fell off, then using the bike for support she walked until meeting someone to help her back onto the seat. After, she began swimming competitively with the Senior Olympics keeping her physically and socially active. Serving on the board of the American Hiking Society, she became the administrative director of AHS, and ended her career working for the American Discovery Trail Society in 2009. She often visited Congress to lobby for trails throughout the USA.Eventually most of the Hik-A-Nation route developed into a national trail known as The American Discovery Trail. These efforts earned her numerous awards, including the establishment of one in her name by the AHS honoring dedicated trails professionals and the ADT’s Happy Feet Award. By the end of 2011, necessity dictated a move to be near her daughter Julie in Davie County. 

Life celebrations will take place across the nation reconnecting her with loved ones along the trails of her adventures in many of the places she loved. 

Arrangements by Eaton’s Funeral Service of Mocksville.