CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dr. Scott Henson of Hurricane, a neurosurgeon who became a nationally syndicated cartoonist, died Tuesday at home after a two-decade struggle against heart disease. He was 52.
As a youth, he was an All-State basketball player at Hurricane High School and later played at Fairmont State University and West Virginia Tech. He earned a medical degree at Marshall University in 1985, then entered a seven-year neurosurgery residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
While at UVa, he treated movie star Christopher Reeve who was paralyzed by a horse fall. Henson and fellow surgeons were hounded by paparazzi photographers.
Debilitating heart disease forced him to leave surgery, so he turned to cartooning. He used a pen name -- Russ Wallace, derived from historic biologist Alfred Russell Wallace, who joined Charles Darwin in establishing that natural selection causes species to evolve.
His witty political cartoons were published by both The Charleston Gazette and Daily Mail during the 1990s, and one won a Scripps-Howard national award. Then his "Natural Selection" comic panel was distributed by Creators Syndicate. It appeared in many U.S. newspapers until declining health forced his retirement.
Henson is survived by two children, Seth, a registered nurse with the Putnam County Health Department, and Brogan, a Marshall University student; a granddaughter, Haley; his parents, Dr. Sam Henson and Joan Henson of Hurricane; and brothers, Dr. Doug Henson of Huntington and Andy Henson of Hurricane.His body is to be cremated, and a private family service is planned, with no visitation. Allen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.