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Dr. Lyman B. Henderson is pictured in the place that many Warren County residents most associate with him — the Warrenton dental practice that he shares with his daughter, Dr. Kara Henderson.

 

Warrenton dentist Dr. Lyman B. Henderson celebrated his 80th birthday on Oct. 5 and has no intention of fully retiring from dentistry anytime soon.

He is the son of the late Lyman B. Henderson, who was a principal in Warren County for 47 years, and the late Violet C. Henderson, who was a teacher for some 40 years.

Henderson was born in Lumberton, but grew up in Warrenton. He proudly calls himself a “Franklin Street boy.” 

There never was much question about what career Henderson would pursue. He liked his childhood dentist, and his parents provided additional motivation.

“My mother said it would be nice for me to be a dentist,” Henderson said. “My father said it would be great to have a job where I could be independent.”

By the time he was six years old, he had made up his mind.

“I never wanted to be anything else,” Henderson said.

After graduating from John R. Hawkins High School in Warrenton, he earned his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Central University in Durham and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington, D.C.

Henderson began practicing dentistry in 1966 with the U.S. Navy and served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam as a dental officer with the 1st Marine Air Wing. His work involved all phases of dentistry and emergency medical procedures.

Most of his patients were servicemen, but Henderson also went into communities, where he performed dentistry for the Vietnamese people.

After Vietnam, Henderson was stationed at Okinawa, Japan, with the 1st Marine Air Wing.

He served in the military for two years and received the Navy Commendation Medal for services above the call of duty.

Henderson practiced dentistry with Group Health Association in Washington, D.C., before returning to his hometown of Warrenton, where he opened a private dental practice in 1969. 

He credits several local medical doctors and dentists for providing encouragement: Dr. Parry Jones, Dr. Sam Massey, Dr. Thomas Haywood, and Dr. Frank Hunter.

Over the course of his local dental career, Henderson has participated in mission trips to Haiti and Jamaica to perform dental healthcare. His service has included performing general dentistry and oral surgery, and teaching the public about good dental hygiene.

Henderson’s daughter, Dr. Kara Henderson, joined the Warrenton practice around 10 years ago. His other daughter, Kristi Bynn Henderson, owns and operates a marketing company in Los Angeles, Calif.

Today, Henderson considers himself semi-retired. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked three days each week at the dental office. Traveling was a favorite pastime.

“I love traveling,” Russia and everywhere in between.”

He thinks of spending with grandchildren, P.J. Jeffries, 13, and Parker Lyman, 11, as his favorite hobby.

Henderson stays in touch with the members of his military unit and talks with his Howard University classmates on the phone every other day.

Henderson is taking precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting a return to the dental clinic on hold. 

But don’t expect him to be pulling out a rocking chair anytime soon. When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Henderson intends to return to the dental practice several days each week, and he can’t wait to travel once again.

Over the course of 80 years, there is one thing that has not changed for Henderson and that no pandemic can impact — his attitude toward life. 

“I was influenced about life by my time in the Marine Corps, the devotion and esprit de corps,” he said. “Between that and my father, they taught me dedication and keep your word.”