Richard Leslie Henderson, MD Profile Photo

Richard Leslie Henderson, MD

November 8, 1935 — September 15, 2023

Thousand Palms

Richard Leslie Henderson, MD


Richard Leslie Henderson MD passed away on September 15, 2023, in Palm Springs California at the age of 87 from COVID after months of hospitalizations from multiple issues. He was born in Blackwell, Oklahoma on November 8, 1935, to Glen Everett Henderson and LaRuba Billings Henderson. His brother Robert had been born two years earlier. Soon after the family moved to Wichita, Kansas.


His father became the physical education instructor and head coach at Friends Academy, a private boarding school in Long Island, New York. Richard and his beloved older brother Robert spent their formative years attending Harvey Boys School and Friends Academy.  Robert graduated from Friends in 1951, Richard in 1953. Their mother was a successful soprano soloist that toured Europe. She also became a notable classical voice teacher and author in San Diego, California years later.


Richard applied and was accepted into college and opted for a freshman year abroad in Germany. He then returned to begin his sophomore year at Oberlin College in Ohio. He achieved a pre-med degree in 1957. While there he met his future wife, Lynne Aiston, a music major and notable voice student. They met in the choir. Richard was known throughout his life to have a beautiful bass classical singing voice. They married and lived in New York state.

Richard was accepted into Albany Medical School and graduated in 1961. He then flew to Southern California and was interviewed and accepted by Good Samaritan Hospital which was linked with University of Southern California. He served his Internship in Medicine for the next 12 months.


Richard’s medical internship initially included delivering babies and light surgical duties, followed by a recommendation to join a cardiology open heart surgery team. Eventually he realized that life as a surgeon meant long hours away from home. That year he and his wife gave birth to their fourth child, steering him back toward his intended field of study in Psychiatry. Richard was accepted for his Residency in Psychiatry at LA County Hospital from 1962- 1965 commuting to work from Alhambra, California.


Richard moved to Redlands, California, received his medical license, and opened his private practice, raising five children with his wife. Richard and Lynne enjoyed performing in many lead singing roles over the years for fun. This included Redlands Bowl summer musical theater events and light operas. In 1972 Richard and Lynne divorced. Lynne became a professional voice teacher most prominently in San Diego.  She passed away in 2003 in Kings Beach - Lake Tahoe after 22 years of living with polycystic kidney disease.


Richard moved from Redlands to Poway, California in 1978 and later Del Mar. His practice remained in Escondido for most of those years. He married and divorced then re-married again and divorced, closed his private practice, then moved to Apple Valley in 2005 to be near his son Mark and his family. Richard’s new endeavor was to travel and work as a Locum Tenens Psychiatrist in Psychiatric Hospitals and Clinics. 


In 2005, during a locum job in Palm Springs, CA, he met his final life partner, Tracy Flynn. She was working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Desert Regional M.C., the hospital to which he was assigned. She would be there for him until the end, even as his health declined. He worked at Victor Valley Behavioral Health in Victorville, CA from 2007 until his full retirement in 2014. He enjoyed his second home in West Yellowstone, MT. for extended stays over the years.


Shortly after his retirement, Richard moved to Palm Desert, and in 2020 into Bella Villaggio senior living complex, where he lived until this past summer. In August he was moved into a licensed assisted living Board and Care home in Palm Desert until his death at Eisenhower Health Center in Palm Springs in September.


Richard enjoyed a 50+ year career as a psychiatrist, attending to many patients and some of the most severe cases of mental illness. He enjoyed fly fishing, hiking, and exploring in and around Yellowstone National Park, when he wasn’t traveling to tropical places to snorkel, swim, and boat. He devoted his life to his Christian faith and its precepts. Reading the bible gave him much comfort.


Richard will be greatly missed by his family & friends and specifically the following: his friend and partner Tracy Flynn; his five children-David Robert Henderson of Alpine, California; Mark Leslie Henderson of Rockvale, Tennessee; Peter Glen Henderson of Eureka, California; Patricia Lee Heneage of Tetonia, Idaho; Joanna Lynn Arriaga of Belfry, Montana; his sons- and daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren-Carly, Brandon, and Blake from son Mark and wife Elaine; Daniel & Michael from his son David and wife Claudette; Tierney from his daughter Patricia and husband H. Robert (Bob) Heneage; and finally Xavierra from his daughter Joanna and husband Richard Arriaga. Richard’s son Pete and his wife Becky Boyd did not have any children. Richard also has six great grandchildren from Mark’s children. Richard was predeceased by his brother Robert in 1997 and his wife MaryKay in 2013-parents of his niece Karen Meleney and four surviving nephews: Clark, Douglas, Rodney and Keith. Also, by both his parents Larra in 1991 and Glen in 1995, along with two grandsons, Harry Heneage in 1998 and Bryce Henderson son of Mark & Elaine in 2021; Private Memorials will be forthcoming.
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