April 11, 1941 – September 26, 2023
Thomas Ranney Henderson, of Raleigh, NC, passed away on September 26, 2023, at the age of 82. Tom was born on Good Friday, April 11, 1941, to Thomas M. Henderson and Ruth Ranney Henderson in Orange, NJ. He graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in 1959 and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Drew University in 1963. Before graduation, he spent his junior year abroad in Germany, studying chemistry and traveling all over Europe on school breaks. Following graduation, Tom worked for Hoffman La Roche until he returned to school, earning his Ph.D in Organic Photochemistry from Rutgers University in 1973. After two years of post-doctoral work at the University of Illinois, Tom began work in the Chemical Development Department of Burroughs Wellcome in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park and worked there for 20 years. After his retirement in 1994, he and his second wife, Ginny Going, discovered InterPlay, an active, creative way to access body wisdom through movement, stories, voice and stillness. With its focus on affirmation and play, they found InterPlay to be transformative. They became certified leaders and taught and led InterPlay across the US and internationally. Tom, along with Ginny, founded an InterPlay improvisational performance group, Off the Deep End Ensemble, and led it for 15 years.
Tom was a scientist, and a man of keen intellect, never passing up an opportunity to learn more about almost any subject but also possessed an ever-evolving perspective on human conflict, his own place in history, and on how to be a better citizen of the world. Within that intellect, he also enjoyed a great laugh about any moment of any day and found delight in funny stories, puns and even in the simple antics of Calvin and Hobbes. A crossword enthusiast, he would wait with baited breath for the Sunday Times, and even timed himself on occasion. He loved games of strategy and was a competitor till the end – without apology if he won, but without blame if he lost.
Tom was also a talented musician, playing the clarinet, alto sax and tenor sax almost his entire life from his two high school jazz bands to improv performances with Off the Deep End Ensemble. He was a member of the Pullen Baptist Church orchestra. Tom founded the Stardusters jazz trio in 2014. They played in assisted living communities, coffee shops, at birthday celebrations and InterPlay retreats. During the pandemic, Tom began to play his sax on Christmas Eve on the front porch, bringing joy to the neighborhood. He played and volunteered at the Pullen Round Table Fellowship where food and hospitality are offered to those who are housing and food insecure. He was a lover of jazz, John Coltrane in particular, but embraced all music from classical, big band, Broadway, rock and roll, folk, and even country. After putting aside his sax post high school, he picked it up again in 1999 and for the next 15 years took lessons from Peter Lamb of Peter Lamb and the Wolves. At Peter’s invitation in 2023, he played in a New Orleans style first line funeral procession that began at a downtown bar and continued through the streets of downtown Raleigh. Music was his guide through life’s unpredictabilities; a way to work out troubles but also to celebrate life’s triumphs.
An avid hiker and camper, Tom sought new opportunities to be at one with nature, hiking many magnificent places including: the Delaware River, the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, and the Minaret Wilderness in California. His appreciation for nature extended to the beach, where on Topsail Island, he enjoyed the simple pleasure of feeling sand between his toes.
Tom was a writer, poet, and playwright, and could craft words to weave intricate tales that captivated his audience. Tom spoke German and maintained a lifelong pursuit of knowledge through continuous study. His fascination with genealogy showcased a deep pursuit to connect with his roots. Tom’s love for exploration led him to travel extensively, with a particular fondness for European destinations, occasionally punctuated by a leisurely cruise. An avid reader, you would be hard pressed to find him without a newspaper, novel, biography, or historiography in hand. Developing strong and authentic relationships between men was an important value in Tom’s life. He was a member of two men’s groups during his lifetime, one spanning more than 35 years. He and his friend, Billy Amoss, led InterPlay men’s retreats for over a decade.
Despite his diverse interests and pursuits, Tom found joy in the simple things in life, a good cup of coffee, a grilled hamburger, pumpkin pie, and an array of ice cream flavors, making indulgence a delightful part of his journey. Tom’s smile was broad, his laugh was deep and infectious, and he was probably one of the best huggers the world has ever had. He could be quiet and introspective, but also loud and silly, and he will be missed for his generosity of spirit, conversation, and dedication to those he loved and who loved him.
Tom was predeceased by his previous wife, Lynne Poole, and step daughter, Sarah Rivers. He is survived by his wife, Ginny Going, daughters Meredith Henderson (R. Darren Horton), Erica Henderson-Smith (James Smith), step daughter Amy Crum (Jim Crum), grandchildren: Zachary and Emma Crum, Alex and Jackson Rivers, Liam Delano-Ohlund and Jacob Henderson-Smith, close cousins and many friends, and his beloved cat, Bella.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 2pm on Saturday the 17th of February in the sanctuary at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church at 1801 Hillsborough St. Raleigh, NC. A short reception will follow.
Another celebration of Tom’s life with a focus on his love of InterPlay will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 2 PM in the fellowship hall of Pullen Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC. A short reception will follow.
All are welcome to attend one or both of these celebrations.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Tom’s honor can be made to the following charities.
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough Church, Raleigh, NC 27603 or Body Wisdom, Inc., 2273 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94612