George Henson, 93, deliveryman

December 20, 2005|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

George Henson, who began work delivering pharmacy prescriptions in 1927 and retired only last year, died of pneumonia Dec. 12 at St. Agnes Hospital. He was 93.

Mr. Henson worked for 77 years at the same business, Voshell's Pharmacy, a firm that his mother advised him would be a safe bet for employment.

"George was an institution in West Baltimore," said the Rev. Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, who grew up in Edmondson Village. "He was the most trusted man on the hill. People sought his advice. He was there at your time of troubles. I think every household knew George."

A 2003 Sun profile of Mr. Henson described him, with a cap pulled snug, trudging "through the near 2-foot-high snowfall in February to get to his job at Voshell's Pharmacies in Southwest Baltimore. Cars were buried and bus runs were canceled, but Henson never thought getting to work that day was anything remarkable."

"That's just what you do," Mr. Henson told the reporter.

Born in Catonsville, he attended public schools and took the job in 1927 to replace a deliveryman at the drug store then located at Edmondson Avenue and Allendale Street.

"One of my neighbors ... asked me to come out to tell Voshell's that he wouldn't be able to work, and Voshell's asked me would I come back the next day to help," Mr. Henson said of the day he got the job. "I guess I've been coming back ever since."

He initially rode a bike, walked or took the streetcar on his rounds delivering prescriptions. When he learned to drive, he drove to doctors' offices and homes to retrieve prescriptions and deliver medication to customers.

"Being so kind and generous, he was always thinking of others," said a niece, Willie Mae Henson, with whom he lived.

"He had a tremendous following," said Barbara Wirth, a part-owner of Voshell's. "He was supposed to be delivering prescriptions but was also helping people, too. He ran errands. He would do anything for you. They broke the mold when they made him."

After giving up driving several years ago, Mr. Henson commuted by bus from his Edgewood Street home to Wilkens Avenue near St. Agnes Hospital. In recent years he gave up delivering and worked in the store until he suffered a stroke last year.

"My mother said to me on her dying bed ... `You stick with Voshell's,'" he told The Sun.

After the article about his work appeared, a letter to the editor commented, "Mr. Henson's longevity, commitment and passion are truly inspiring. Step aside, Cal, there's a new iron man in town, and his name is George Henson."

Services were held Saturday.

Survivors include a sister, Rosie Davis of Milford, Del.; and nephews and nieces.

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