Edward Shelton Henderson, MD
Dr. Edward Henderson, whose work as a Senior Investigator at the National Cancer Institute in the 1960s and later as Chief of Medicine at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute proved a major contribution to the fight against childhood leukemia, died on June 25 in Montecito, California, after a period of declining health. He was 87.
Edward Shelton Henderson was born on July 19, 1932 in Ventura, California, and raised on a citrus ranch in neighboring Santa Paula. His father, also named Edward, was a prominent lawyer and later Ventura County Superior Court Judge, and his mother, Leigh (Shelton) Henderson, was a homemaker. After obtaining his M.D. from Stanford University in 1956 and completing a three-year internship at Los Angeles General Hospital, he came east to work at the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, M.D.
During his twelve-year tenure there, first as a clinical associate studying hematological oncology with combination-chemotherapy pioneers Emil Frei, Emil Freireich and David Rall, and later as a senior researcher and head of the Leukemia Service, Dr. Henderson was centrally involved in experimental breakthroughs in the treatment of the leukemia and lymphoma, advances that would eventually contribute to a decline in the mortality rate in children from 90% to less than 20%—one of the great success stories in modern oncology.
Dr. Henderson moved to Buffalo, New York in 1973, to take the position of Chief of Medicine A at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the nation’s first research facility devoted exclusively to cancer research and treatment. In the course of over two decades at the institute, he oversaw numerous advances in the field of oncology, and was senior editor of Leukemia, the seminal medical text on that disease. After retiring from his position in 1990, he went on to serve as a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, then returned to Buffalo to work at the Veterans Administration Hospital for the last years of his professional life.
After his retirement, Dr. Henderson returned to the Southern California of his childhood, settling first in Summerland, then in Montecito, with Carolyn Kincaid, whom he met at his fifty-year Stanford reunion and married the following year. His last decade was devoted to tennis, time with his extended family, and work at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where he served as a docent from 2006 until 2016.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Henderson is survived by three daughters, Emilie Henderson Ganter, Jacqueline Henderson, and Nadine Henderson, as well as by a son, John Henderson, and nine grandchildren—Maria Consuelo Henderson, Ian Henderson, Emilie Rivkin, Thomas Ganter, Cambria Revsine, Mahler Revsine, Stephen Earl Showalter, Sophia Magdalena Showalter, and Julián Henderson. His eldest son, Peter Joret Henderson, predeceased him in Due to the pandemic, no memorial service will be held at this time.