Mel Henderson, a native of Iowa Hill and longtime resident of Grass Valley, died last Friday.
He was a sculptor, teacher, gold miner and pacifist/warrior who never missed an opportunity to advance the cause of Utopia or call out The Man who stood in its way.
In the ’60s and ’70s, he collaborated with his wife, Su Rannells, and a team of merry pranksters to pioneer happenings in San Francisco, among them the infamous Yellow Cab Event, which culminated in a flowering of taxis at the intersection of Market and Castro, and the giant spelling of the word “OIL” on the polluted waters of the San Francisco Bay. A World War II pilot, his more recent work protested the war in the Middle East and included the installation of hundreds of white crosses in public sites and the construction of a massive peace sign on the hills above Woodside.
Mel was a gentle rock of a man, a loving husband and father, a true believer in the power of the creative act who made other artists feel they were doing God’s work.
Wherever he is, I’m sure he has found the vein of gold he spent his life seeking.