Ronald Henderson, owner of U Street novelty paper store Pulp, died last week from complications due to liver cancer. He was 56 years old. Henderson, who had been living in Provincetown, Mass., did more than provide paper curios to Washington. After contracting HIV 25 years ago, Henderson worked as a tireless AIDS activist in California, D.C., and Provincetown.
Pulp is planning a memorial for March 6.
Henderson’s full obituary, from a local paper:
Ronald Henderson, 56
Ronald Ray Henderson, 56, of Provincetown, died Feb. 15 at his home after living with AIDS
for 25 years and battling liver cancer for two years.
Born in Los Angeles on Sept. 25, 1952, he spent his early years in Torrance, Calif. He
attended San Francisco State College where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s
degrees in clinical psychology.
In the 1980s he worked tirelessly in various AIDS-related organizations. He was a Shanti
counselor on ward 5A, the original AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. While
working at S.F. General, Ron developed a protocol for informing people of their AIDS
diagnosis that he taught all over the world. He went on to become a trainer at the AIDS
Health Project in San Francisco, director of the AIDS organization in Sonoma County and
director of the San Francisco Health Initiative For Youth with AIDS, one of the first care and
prevention projects in the country for young people with AIDS.
Ron embodied the best of the spirit of the peace and love generation and continued to
promote these ideals in all of his further endeavors. In addition to his work-related
service, Ron was proud of his AIDS activism and was a speaker and volunteer. He also
knew the power of civil disobedience as a tool for social change and was purposely and
proudly arrested in several AIDS-related protests.
In 2001, he moved to Washington, D.C., and opened Pulp, his unique card and gift store.
His focus in business emphasized entertaining his customers and supporting his
employees. Six years later, he brought himself and Pulp to Provincetown. In the process,
he met his husband, Paul T. Hempel. They were married in April 2007. Following Ron’s
diagnosis of cancer, he and his husband traveled extensively to Europe and throughout
In addition to his husband, he is survived by three adult children, Jessi, Katje and Evan
Hempel and their spouses; his brother, Michael Henderson of Long Beach, Calif., his half-
sister, Elissa Lidderdale of Nevada, and his half-brother Ernie Lidderdale of California.
Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to Mass. General Hospital, Dr. Andrew
X. Zhu Liver Cancer Research Fund, c/o Kelly MacLean Clark Development office, 165
Cambridge St., Suite 600, Boston, MA 02144 or to Fenway Health, 800 Boylston St., Suite
400, Boston, MA 02199 (www.fenwayhealth.org).