James Henderson
James Henderson

Obituary of James Coulton Henderson

HENDERSON, Dr. James Coulton




Dr. James Coulton Henderson died in his 90th year on February 15, 2021 with his beloved family at his side. Jim was the adored husband of Shirley, father of Jim (Karen) and Kim (Kate) and Papa to Arlee (Shane), Erin, Jillian and Rylee. Jim was predeceased by his siblings Wendell, Orion, Alton and Doris, his brother-in-law Donald Kemp, and sister-in-law Joyce Kemp. He is survived by his brother-in-law Murray Kemp (Dianne) and sisters-in-law Nadine Royal (Bernie deceased) and Barbara MacLean (Gerry) and many nieces, nephews, and their children in Canada and the United States.


Special thanks to the nurses, doctors and staff at Providence Care Hospital, Parkside 1 for the wonderful care they gave Jim and the kindness they showed to Shirley in the last eight months of Jim’s life.


Jim made his entrance at home on July 11, 1930, the youngest of five born to CNR station master John Laughlin Henderson and Lottie Luella Bradley, in Nemegos—a small northern Ontario town that no longer exists. Nemegos was so small that Jim was boarded out to attend public school in Chapleau and later, to Fort William (now Thunder Bay) for high school. On visits home from Queen’s, the train didn’t even come to a full stop in Nemegos. The conductor would just slow down so Jim could hop on and off. Childhood summers and weekends in the north made Jim an expert canoeist out of necessity. There was no other way to get around. Jim always wanted to be a doctor, so in 1950 he set out for Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. It was here, at a boarding house where he ate his meals, that he met the love of his life — Shirley Vera Kemp. Jim graduated with his BA in 1953 and immediately began medical school. Shirley and Jim were married on July 7, 1956.


Early married life was dominated by Jim’s studies. First they lived in an apartment on University Avenue – close enough for Jim to walk to school and for Shirley to walk to work downtown. In 1959, Jim graduated. He immediately returned to school to do his specialty in anaesthesia. Jim and Shirley loved the camaraderie of Queen’s med school and attending Class of ‘59 reunions would become a lifelong highlight for them both. While Jim studied and Shirley worked, they started their family. Jimmy was born in June, 1961, and Kimberley followed in late December, 1962 – just in time for a tax deduction Jim always joked. The family spent 1964 in Toronto where Jim worked at Northwestern Hospital and Toronto General while studying for his Fellowship exams. In 1965 they returned to Kingston where Jim worked as an anaesthetist at Hotel Dieu Hospital. He served in many different roles at hospitals and at Queen’s simultaneously over the years, including as deputy chief of the department of anesthesia at Hotel Dieu Hospital, president of the medical staff at Ongwanada Hospital, assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology at Queen’s, attending staff at Kingston General Hospital and associate staff at Kingston Psychiatric Hospital and Kingston Penitentiary. He retired in 1996 and then started his own business for dental anaesthesia until 2003.


Jim was at heart a family man, and despite spending wonderful yearly vacations on Captiva Island in Florida and after retirement, in Pinehurst, North Carolina, he would always grin from ear to ear and say, “it’s good to be home,” as soon as they walked back in the front door. Shirley and Jim planned and built their house, which they moved into at the end of 1971 and where they remained for the next 45 years. They loved to entertain and hosted many epic parties and bridge games with dear, dear friends too numerous to name here. Jim loved to garden and spent hours every week keeping the flower beds and lawn immaculate. When he wasn’t working, he was always busy, either in the garden, tending to the house and pool or lending an expert hand to any family or friend who needed it. In the rare moments Jim sat still, it was to bury his nose in a book. Adored by his family and friends, respected by his colleagues and appreciated by his many patients over the years, Jim’s generosity and kindness will live on in those who knew and loved him.


Due to the pandemic, the funeral will be family only. Donations are welcome to the Alzheimer Society of Kingston or any charity of your choice.


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