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By Pat Foran, Editor
I’ve covered a number of industries in my years as a reporter and editor, and none are as tightly knit as the rail realm. And when railroaders lose one of their own, the loss is palpable and personal, as we were reminded last month.
Nate Henderson, who served the Class I, contracting and supply segments of the industry during his 20-year rail career, died April 18 from an apparent heart attack. He was 43.
From 1998 through 2011, Nate worked at CSX, rising to the position of division manager. He then joined R. J. Corman Railroad Group, where he spent the next six years in senior executive positions, including president of R. J. Corman Railroad Services Co.; and chief commercial officer, vice president of material sales, and VP of sales and marketing of R. J. Corman Railroad Group. Nate was a member of the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association Board as well the Association of American Railroads’ Associate Advisory Board.
At 2017’s end, he left Corman to serve as managing partner and chief operating officer of North American Rail Partners, and executive VP of MidWest Pacific Rail Net & Logistics. He also founded Henderson Rail Services.
Word of Nate’s death spread quickly. I received numerous calls and texts. The news story we posted on progressiverailroading.com was shared more than 2,200 times in less than a week as railroaders felt compelled to tell people just how much Nate meant to them. We’re sharing the sentiments of three of Nate’s closest friends here.
“To know Nate was to like Nate,” said Progressive Railroading Publisher Kirk Bastyr. “He had the unique talent of making you feel comfortable when you were talking to him, no matter the topic.”
At the April 26 Celebration of Life service for Nate, several attendees recalled a phrase Nate used to use: “I’m kind of a big deal.” He was kidding when he’d say it, of course, but it couldn’t have been more true, Bastyr said.
“Nate Henderson always was and always will be kind of a big deal to all that knew him,” Bastyr added. “He will be missed tremendously.”
I knew Nate as the soft-spoken, sharp guy in the group. Self-deprecating, yet self-assured. Nate took the high road — he commanded respect because of the way he carried himself. He kept people grounded. And connected. Nate made this tight-knit industry that much tighter.
Nate is survived by his wife, Amy; and three children. His friends at R. J. Corman have established The Nathan Henderson Family Memorial Fund. For more information, visit: https://rj-corman.snwbll.com/giving-portal.