Hendry retires (again) after serving the community for more than 50 years

Former county commissioner to stay involved, but plans to spend time on his farm

By Don Coble don@opcfla.com
Posted 12/16/20

LAKE ASBURY – Gayward Hendry’s U.S. Marines dress blues still hangs in his closest. The creases are razor sharp. His Company Grade White Hat is clean and crisp. At 73, his jaw is still firm, his …

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Hendry retires (again) after serving the community for more than 50 years

Former county commissioner to stay involved, but plans to spend time on his farm

Posted

LAKE ASBURY – Gayward Hendry’s U.S. Marines dress blues still hangs in his closest. The creases are razor sharp. His Company Grade White Hat is clean and crisp. At 73, his jaw is still firm, his handshake is powerful.

So much as happened in Hendry’s life, but little has changed. He still wears the same size dress blues he wore during his 20-year stint in the military. He’s still not afraid to speak his mind. And when he looks you in the eye, you know it’s the truth.

After spending his entire adult like serving the community, including the last four years on the Clay Board of County Commissioners, Hendry will walk away, yet stay involved.

For now, he’s finding tranquility on his farm making cane syrup. There also are plans to travel and fish to be caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I don’t sit around much,” Hendry said just a few days after his term on the commission ended. “I watch very little television. I never take a nap in the afternoon. So far, I’ve had plenty to do between church and farm and the various organizations I’m involved in. I’m still wide open.”

It’s also the fourth time he’s retired.

Hendry spent 20 years at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Some of that overlapped with is time as a reservist in the Marines. After retiring from JSO and the Marines, he worked 14 years as a senior investigator with the State Attorney’s office. He retired from that job and became a chief inspector with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. He retired from CCSO and spent four years on the county’s planning commission before winning the District 5 seat on the BCC in 2016.

“I could have run one more time, but I decided to take a break,” he said. “There’s stuff I still want to do. I tell everybody I’ll be back. And I’m going to keep my fingers in the political things around here.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there I wouldn’t spit on, but there’s a lot of stuff out there that needs real attention.”

Hendry said a brief conversation with a woman at church played a role in his decision to walk away from the BCC. She wanted a dirt road on her property to be paved. Hendry said it was against the law to use county resources on private land.

The woman vowed to never vote for him again.

“I don’t need that stuff,” Hendry said.

“Let me tell you about this county. When I ran the first time, they kept telling me it’s a part-time job. That’s B.S. in the first order. It can be a part-time job if the only thing you do is go to meetings and return a few phone calls. It’s a full-time job if you work it the way it should be – being proactive. You get out there and look at stuff that needs to be fixed. If you do it that way, if you return all of your phone calls and try to help everybody that reaches out to you, it’s full-time. The worst thing in the world is telling somebody you can’t do something.”

Hendry still serves. He’s the president of Farm Bureau, a past president of the Clay County Historical Society, a board member of the Military Museum of North Florida, the president of the Lake Asbury Community Association and on the board of directors for the 4-H Foundation. But he believes his greatest accomplishment has been working with Youth Leadership Program at Quantico, Virginia – and eventually expanding the program to Camp Blanding.

“We ran a couple thousand kids through that summer program,” Hendry said. “That was a real out for most of those kids.”

Hendry said he won’t miss the bickering and back-biting that comes with campaigning. He said people create lies during election cycles, which makes the process a waste of time and “un-American.”

Besides, he’s too busy to dwell on hate and negativity. There’s too much work to be done, too many projects that need immediate attention. Anything else is simply a distraction.

“I’ve seen too many people who hate life, walking around with a poor attitude. Nothing’s ever right,” he said. “Everyone’s always after them. Blah, blah, blah. That’s an easy trap to fall into. I try to live my life with enthusiasm.

“When I get up every morning, one of the first things I do is think who out there needs my help? I got a couple hours to spare. All the people I speak to, I impress on them to live your life in a manner that when your feet hit the floor, the devil says [crap], you’re awake again.”

And still going strong.

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