William “Hank” Henderson, the former CEO of Rogers-based America’s Car-Mart who was known for his grinning Southern drawl “drive easy” tagline while appearing for years in the company’s television commercials, has died. He was 60.
According to his daughter, Hannah Henderson McKenzie, Henderson died Saturday night (Oct. 14). She shared the news on Sunday via the following social media post.
“It’s with the deepest regret that my sisters and I share that our father passed away on Saturday evening. There are truly no words to describe the type of dad, brother, son, and friend he was, and we are devastated to share this news. But if you knew our dad, you know that, rather than dwelling on this news, he would want us to enjoy time together as friends and family.
We will be sharing information about a service and celebration of life to be held this week. In the meantime, we hope you will raise a glass in honor of Hank, and know that we share in your grief.”
Henderson worked for Car-Mart for 30 years until retiring in December 2017. He was the company’s president for 14 years (2002-2016) and CEO for a decade (2007-2017).
He’s been on the company’s board of directors since 2002.
“We are saddened by the loss of our colleague. Our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies go to Hank’s family and friends,” Car-Mart CEO and President Doug Campbell said in a statement issued Monday. “Hank was a much-loved and respected member of our company, leaving behind a legacy of commitment to our associates and customers. He will be greatly missed.”
Henderson was raised on a farm near England (Lonoke County) in central Arkansas. He was hired by Car-Mart founder Bill Fleeman in 1987, six years after the company got up and running with about 20 vehicles.
“Hank dedicated his life to our great company and his legacy lives on through the influence he has had on others. We are deeply appreciative of Hank’s contributions and the strong foundation he has left us to build on,” said Jeff Williams, CEO Emeritus. “The entire Car-Mart family will miss him.”
In 1999, Fleeman sold the company to Dallas, Texas-based Crown Group for $41 million before his death that same year. Henderson became chief operating officer at that time.
Crown divested the Car-Mart business in 2002, at which time Henderson became president of the new publicly-traded America’s Car-Mart Inc.
“We are all deeply saddened by Hank’s unexpected passing. His sage counsel, sense of humor, friendship, and long-term commitment to our company, customers, and associates will be sorely missed. We extend our deepest condolences to Hank’s daughters and family, to whom he was forever devoted,” said Josh Welch, Chairman.
According to his obituary, Henderson died unexpectedly Saturday night at his home on Beaver Lake. No other details were available.
A private ceremony for close friends and family will be held on Thursday morning (Oct. 19). The family will also host a public celebration of life on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Meteor Guitar Gallery in downtown Bentonville.