‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Pens Heartbreaking Tribute to Husband Who Died 22 Years to the Day Prior to Her Victory

by Halle Ames

This Jeopardy! champion pens an emotional message about her late husband, who died 22 years to the day prior to her win.

In the wake of Verlinda Johnson Henning’s celebratory win on Jeopardy!, it also marked another anniversary for her, but one that is associated with a sadder memory.

Henning’s husband, Darrell, died 22 years prior to her incredible victory. Twenty-two years to the day. According to the Daily Memphian, that is about the same amount of time the two knew each other.

On Facebook, the 62-year-old Jeopardy! contestant emotionally wrote a tribune to her husband. Hennings says that Darrell was smiling down on her during her time on the show.

“What’s on my mind?” she began. “Today, June 8, I’m remembering my husband Darrell, who died on June 8, 1999. I’m a person of faith. I believe Darrell knows that I did well. I think he knows that I wish he could be here in person to share this with me. But it makes what is traditionally a really tough day, well, I’ll just say it, it helps.”

Darrell & Verlinda Hennings

The news source notes that Darrell Hennings died at the young age of 45 from a “mysterious infection.” Verlinda believes the infection came from the hospital he was being treated at.

Darrell and Verlinda met while the two were attending Memphis State. On their first date, Darrell took her to a Chinese restaurant nearby and then to the movie theater to see the original Star Wars.

“It was May of 1977,” Verlinda states. “I’m older than dirt.”

It wasn’t much longer before the two young lovebirds got hitched. Both were still attending college. After they graduated, Verlinda got a job with Memphis Light, Gas, and Water. Darrell worked as an independent computer consultant.

However, in 1999, Darrell’s blood pressure spiked. What originally was supposed to be a few days stay at the hospital ended in his unexpected death two days later.

“He went to the hospital to have his medication adjusted for high blood pressure,” said the Jeopardy! champion. “We thought he would come home in time for our anniversary, the 16th of June. But he got a fever and died two days later. I don’t have anything to substantiate this, but my belief is he got an infection at the hospital.”

After countless days, months, and years of mourning Darrell with her tears, the sadness didn’t hurt as bad.

Love For Trivia Leads To Jeopardy! Victory

She also found a love in trivia, and she was very good at it.

Finally, Verlinda Hennings decided to try out for Jeopardy!. In mid-March, she was asked to fly to California for the show.

“Just walking on the stage was an honor,” she said. “That’s where Alex Trebek stood. He’s not a god, but I admired him so much. He was sick, and he kept going when he could have said, “I’m tired. I’m out.”

Verlinda went on to win the game of Jeopardy! and make Darrell proud, wherever he may be. In addition, the city of Memphis was proud of her, saying she represented them well. In return, Hennings said the city is “a place full of passion and grit.”

Her Jeopardy! reign was short-lived, however. By night two, she came close, but a contestant named Tim ultimately took home the crown.