Alan R. Henderson Biography

My father was in the Air Force for 20 years. He entered in 1950 when he was 20 and retired in 1970. My parents were married December 25, 1950. Most of my early years were as an "Air Force brat". My first memories were of the years on Guam. I remember when the families would go to the beach for picnics. One of my first and favorite memories was of a picnic we had in a cave on the beach. I found out years later, that they converted many of the caves into real homes.
When I was 4 I had learned how to whistle. A friend of my mother's was at the house showing her a new red bikini and bright red lipstick. I remember whistling at her and getting a big kiss, although at the time I didn't like it.
At five we moved from a tropic paradise to "a small town in the middle of a corn field". I really hated the move to Illinois. It wasn't my first move, but definitely the most traumatic. Mostly I remember the cold and wind. I grew really tall when I was 12 and felt uncomfortable until I started playing basketball. I mostly an average player, but I really loved the game. My father had lots of vacation time, so we usually took month long trips during the summer. One of favorite trips was a long trip out west to Yellowstone Park (still one of my favorite places in the world). We met my mother's twin sister's family at Yellowstone. One evening my mother supposedly saw me peeing behind a tree, so she created a cute pen and ink sketch. Another great trip was around the Great Lakes from Illinois to Canada to Maine and back to Illinois.
When my father retired from the Air Force at 50, we moved to Oak Ridge, TN. I was really happy to move out of the "corn field". Oak Ridge was a super place and the people seemed smart, so I really liked it. Since most of the high students families came from other places, I didn't feel like the outsider. My senior year in high school, I had enough credits that I only had to go to school half days. I got a job as the night clerk at the local Holiday Inn working from 11 pm to 7 am. I then went to school until noon and then slept the afternoon away.
I went to East Tennessee State University for 2 years. I studied Accounting and Geology. My mother's brother owned an accounting company and I thought about becoming a CPA. After 2 years I decided accounting wasn't for me. So I picked up a phone book and started reading each category. Whenever I found a category that sounded like an interesting job, I would call one of the largest companies and ask for an interview with the owner. My first question would be "why should I start a career in your field and work for you?". When I got to Photogrammetry I found a job that was truly interesting. This is the process where you view aerial photographs and create topographic maps. The company let me work in each of the departments in the company. After 1 year I ended decided to attend the only school in the world that taught Photogrammetry. I went to the Swiss School for Photogrammetry in St. Gallen, Switzerland. This was only the most interesting 7 months in my life. The town of St. Gallen was famous for having hundreds of different schools. There were around 10,000 students from all over the world. Every evening I would go out a talk to someone from another country. I was one of the tallest men in town and definitely had the longest hair, so I was noticed. I honed my "debating" skills with many diverse-mined students.
I came back to Tennessee for 6 months and I got a job offer from a company that had heard that I had gone to the Swiss School. Cary was an enjoyable place to live compared to Tennessee since there were many universities all around. I met a man who owned a bicycle shop across from the University of North Carolina. Ed invited me the first weekend for a bike ride (even loaning me a bike). I didn't know until we had been going for over an hour that the ride was going to be 100 miles. I truly learned the meaning of pain. I was new to the area, didn't know my way back and had to keep up with seasoned riders. I also learned that, 2 hours later you can hardly remember how painful, but the next day, don't sit down.
After 11 months at the company, I didn’t like the boss too much. He called me in the office one day and said I had to change my ways or he would let me go. I had all ready finished a resume, so I told him "where's my check". I sent out 30 resumes, 27 to companies in the U.S. and 3 overseas. The first company called me 3 days later from Alaska. I asked them to fly me up for a visit but they told me that they would only agree to fly me if I would work for 6 months (didn't want to pay for a bunch of vacations). I ended up spending 2 months flying to 20 of the companies for interviews. I also had phone interviews with the 3 overseas companies (I decided not to live in England, Saudi Arabia or France). During my trips back and forth, all my friends kept giving me a hard time about not going to Alaska (none had ever been). I decided to take a job in Trenton, NJ just outside Philadelphia. On the Friday before I had to be in Trenton on Monday, my friends had a going away party. They conspired to tell me they were happy I was moving to Alaska. After many hours of saying I was going to New Jersey and a "few" drinks I told everyone that if they gave me money I'd go to Alaska. I woke up the next morning with over $2500. So, I called Trenton and quit the job before I got there. I then remembered I hadn't called Alaska, but luckily they still had a job.
I then spent 8.5 years living "10 miles from Alaska" in Anchorage. It was a town about the size of Knoxville (250,000 people) with people who are really into the out doors. See my Stories webpage about my time in Alaska. I then moved back to Tennessee where I worked for myself for many years. I had sold most of my furniture when I left Alaska, so I started going to Antique auctions to furnish my house. I eventually became addicted to antiques (this is a condition where you run out of room and have to start selling things to make room for new ones). I would go to Esau's once a month and sell some of my treasures. In 1994 one of my clients talked me into coming to work for them. A year later another of my clients (Sterling) talked me into another job change. I spent many years working too many hours. I worked 4 days a week around 50 hours. I woke up one Friday and decided I needed to do something meaningful. So, I went to the Knoxville Zoo to volunteer. I started in the bird department, but they are extremely messy and so of then were very mean. I then tried the big cats department, but they are very smelly to clean up after (100 times worst than a cat litter box) and many of the dens were only 5 foot high and I was too tall). I then tried the big animal department (Rhinos, Giraffes, etc). The Rhinos are really gentle animals (love to be rubbed). I then got the opportunity of a lifetime to work with the elephants. To this day I say that it was the best job I ever had to pay to work at.
In August 2002, I had been dating a lady for several months who only wanted to go out to dinner on Friday nights. I told her I wanted to do more, so we went out for lunch on Saturday. I had had enough, so I broke up with her. At 47 I decided that I was going to give up dating. Later that evening I miss a call from a friend who I had known a few years called to tell me his sister-in-law was in town. He had told me about his 6' tall sister-in-law for a long time, but I didn't believe him. The next day he invited me to dinner where I finally met the woman of my dreams. This was the day before Labor Day. We spent the next day together on the lake and 1 year later we were married.
The rest is history..... (recorded here on my website)...

Family members -
Paternal Grandfather - Porter Henderson, born 3-5-1896, in Ashville, AL
Paternal Grandmother - Emily Henderson, born 8-22-1902 in Ashville, AL
Maternal Grandfather - Hugh Hall, born 7-25-1904 in Dawson, AL
Maternal Grandmother - Edweina McCluney, born 5-29-1903 in Gadsden, AL
Father - Donald Alfred Henderson, born 7-19-1930 in Ashville, AL (St. Clair County)
Mother - Mary Ruth Hall, born 10-15-1931 in Gadsden, AL (Etowah County)
Brother - Donald Alfred Henderson Jr., born 3-9-1952 in Midwest City, OK (Tinker AFB)
Sister- Joy Ruth Henderson, born 8-8-53 in Warner Robbins, GA (Robins AFB)
Me - Alan Ray Henderson, born 3-2-55 in Montgomery, AL (Maxwell AFB)
Sister - Emily Gay Henderson, born 6-11-62 in Rantoul, IL (Chanute AFB)
Son - Jonathan Edward Lesher, born 8-26-82 in Anchorage, AK
Wife - Kathleen Mary Bogan, born 11-29-64 in Milwaukee, WI
Where I have lived and worked -
3-55 to 10-55 Montgomery, AL (born)
10-55 to 12-55 Long Beach, NY
12-55 to 9-56 East Meadow, NY
9-56 to 1-57 Gulf Port, MS
1-57 to 9-58 East Meadow, NY
9-58 to 11-58 Barrigana, Guam
11-58 to 8-60 Anderson AFB, Guam
8-60 to 2-61, Fairlawn Dr., Rantoul, IL
2-61 to 6-70, Short St., Rantoul, IL
6-70 to 9-73, Quincy Ave., Oak Ridge, TN
   High School student
   Backdoor Pizza - 1970 to 1971 - Kitchen Cook manager
   Holiday Inn - 1972 to 1973 - Night Clerk
9-73 to 6-75, Johnson City, TN
   ETSU - Accounting and Geology student
   Geology Department - drafting part-time
6-75 to 9-76, Oak Ridge, TN
   Continental Aerial Surveys - Photo Lab tech, Surveying tech, Photogrammetry intern
9-76 to 4-77, St. Gallen, Switzerland
   Swiss School for Photogrammetry - student
4-77 to 10-77, Oak Ridge, TN
   Continental Aerial Surveys - Photogrammetrist
10-77 to 10-78, Cary, NC
   Landmark Engineering - Photogrammetrist
10-78 to 6-85, Anchorage, AK
   North Pacific Aerial Surveys - Anchorage, AK - 1978 to 1980
       Photogrammetrist - Create topographic maps
1980 to 1981 - multiple jobs - Drafting, guiding, crabbing, gold mining
   Sohio/BP Alaska, Inc. - Anchorage, AK - 1981
       Manual Drafter - Create Oil Company lease maps, presentation maps and slides
   Anchorage Community College - Anchorage, AK - 1981 to 1983
       College Instructor - Taught Surveying and Photogrammetry class
   Arco Alaska, Inc. - Anchorage, AK - 1981 to 1985
       CAD Specialist - Produce EPA impact drawings for East half of Prudhoe Bay Oil Field
        Create Oil Company lease maps, presentation maps, drawings and slides
6-85 to 6-94, 911 Sunset Dr., Alcoa TN
   A True North, Inc. - Alcoa, TN - 1985 to 2002
       President - AutoCAD consultation and programming company
       Writing custom AutoLisp programs for many Manufacturing companies.
       Helped many companies convert from manual drafting to AutoCAD
       Developed CAD standards, train employees and write custom shortcuts
6-94 to 4-2003, 611 Worcester Rd., Knoxville, TN
   Smoky Mountain AutoCAD User Group - Knoxville, TN - 1987 to 1995
   President - Local AutoCAD user group -
        Created newsletters, organized meetings and chaired meetings.
   Pellissippi State Community College - Knoxville, TN - 1992 to 1994
       College Instructor - Taught AutoCAD and AutoLISP classes
   Pathway Bellows, Inc. - Oak Ridge, TN - April 1994 to October 1995
       CAD Programmer and Drafting Specialist
   Sterling Engineering - Maryville, TN - October 1995 to November 2002
       Chief Technology Officer, CAD Manager and part-Owner
   Knoxville Zoological Park - Knoxville, TN - January 2002 to November 2002
       Zoo volunteer - working as Elephant Keeper Assistant
4-2003 to 8-2005, 3720 Cari Adam Dr., New Berlin, WI
   Racine Zoo - Racine, WI - June 2003 to October 2003
       Zoo volunteer - working as Keeper Assistant
   A'cad Solutions - New Berlin, WI - November 2003 to August 2005
   Owner - AutoCAD consultant and custom programming
8-2005 present, 3642 South Creek Rd., Knoxville, TN
   Sterling Engineering - Maryville, TN - September 2005 to May 2006
       IT Manager, ESOP owner
   A'cad Solutions - Knoxville, TN - August 2005 to present
       Owner - AutoCAD consultant and custom programming
    Knoxville Zoological Park - Knoxville, TN - September 2006 to present
       Zoo volunteer - working as Elephant Keeper Assistant
Pets -
1979 to 1985 - Tok - Irish setter
1986-1988 - Kodiak - Chow mix
1990-1994 - Denali - Miniature Dapple Dachshund
1998-2012 - Kenai - Husky mix
2006-present - Boo - Black Manx Cat
Hobbies -
Antiques (most favorite)
Golfing (used to love to play)
Note -
I rarely like to watch or follow sports, except maybe the final games. I have recently become a University of Wisconsin Badger fan and Green Bay Packer fan thanks to my lovely wife.