An unusual inheritance

Behind Bud Henderson’s quaint Leavittsburg home sits a shed brimming with a life’s worth of collectibles, family heirlooms and other keepsakes.

”All of this stuff is in perfect or near perfect condition,” Henderson said.

When longtime family friend Ruth Greenwood passed away in May of 2008, the 65-year-old Henderson had no idea he was to become the executor and her primary beneficiary. Now, almost five years later, he’s still sorting through the archives of possessions owned by the final member of a well-known Warren family.

”There was so much stuff, we literally had to build a shed to store it all,” Henderson explained. ”I haven’t even come close to going through all of it yet.”

While not a direct relative, Henderson and Greenwood were as close as brother and sister.

”We met in 1959 when my brother threw a snowball at a tree and accidentally hit her friend,” Henderson said of their first encounter when he was 13. ”They chewed us out, but about a year later, I was walking past her house and she asked me if I was one of the kids who threw the snowball and if I wanted a job.”

Henderson began mowing her grass, trimming her hedges and doing other odd jobs for Greenwood.

”Our friendship took off from then until the day she died,” Henderson said. ”It was just a freak thing that we did with the snowball and it ended up being good.”

In the late 1960s, during the time Henderson was in the U.S. Army at Fort Dix in New Jersey, Henderson was faced with having to spend Christmas alone.

”I had no way of getting back,” Henderson said. ”Rose drove all the way up there just so we could spend Christmas together, and that was the first time she had ever been out of Trumbull County. You don’t find many friends like that.

”Over my life, I’ve had a lot of acquaintances, but I’ve only had one true friend. That was Ruth,” he continued.

Once out of the Army, Henderson spent every Christmas Eve with Greenwood and his three children grew to know her as ”Aunt Ruth.”

”I got married, Ruth was there,” Henderson said. ”Ruth was there when all three of my kids were born. Ruth supported me when I was going through a divorce.”

Henderson married his second wife, Linda, in 2003 and she recalls Greenwood’s relationship with the family.

”She was just the nicest person you would ever want to meet,” Linda said. ”Everyone in the family loved her.”

Greenwood, who graduated from Warren Harding in 1951 and retired after 30 years from Packard Electric, had one brother, but he died at a young age. Greenwood never married and had no children. She was the fourth generation to live in Trumbull County and her parents owned the now closed Greenwood Feed & Supply in Warren.

”She would often joke around about being the last in her family,” Henderson said. ”It was never really serious, but she would say things like, ‘when I die, we will be extinct.’

”It didn’t seem like she thought about it too much, though, and she certainly didn’t talk about it a lot.”

Cancer finally took her life on May 31, 2008, and Henderson was at her bedside until her final breath.

”She was lying in the bed and I had a hold of her hand,” Henderson explained. ”I told her, ‘Ruth, everything is going to be fine.’ We would always joke with each other that we couldn’t die because we both hated funerals.

”I told her she would be fine and she squeezed my hand. That was it. We were right there beside her when she died,” he said.

Greenwood is buried in Oakwood Cemetery next to her great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and brother.

Meanwhile, Henderson was given most of her worldly possessions, including a Chinese parasol from the early 1900s, and a music box from the late 1800s. Henderson notes he considers the items precious to his family and has no plans to sell the antiques.

”I’d have to be pretty desperate to do that,” Henderson said. ”One of these days, I’ll get through everything she left to me.”