Editor’s Note: It was the 1960s and a world of hippies, political activism and rock and roll was born. The children of the 60s helped raise the country’s collective consciousness and proved that the younger generation has a voice in our society. During that pivotal period in America’s cultural history, the University of Florida turned out its first generation of medical graduates. In this series we’ll highlight alumni from the College of Medicine’s first decade – a group of physicians who have had a major impact on medicine, their communities and beyond.
These days, Henry Harden spends his time caring for hay, horses and trees – hardly the typical patient list for most physicians. But after more than 40 years of caring for individuals as a personal physician, Harden has found that he is good at taking care of more than just humans.
Harden, a 1966 graduate of UF’s College of Medicine, spends his days on his farm in Mississippi cultivating a new passion in a new chapter of his life.
“I’ve always loved being outside and there is something to say about the peacefulness of being on this land,” Harden said. “We don’t make much money, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than working on my farm. I belong here now.”
Harden, who lives with his wife, Lynnora, moved to Mississippi after spending the majority of his life as a doctor. After receiving his medical degree from UF, Harden spent two years in the Army – including a one-year stint in Vietnam – then returned to his hometown of Pensacola and worked as an emergency room physician. Soon after, he went into family practice with his brother.
“The family practice was a great, life-changing experience. I never really wanted to specialize in anything,” Harden said. “I liked the challenge of knowing a lot about everything and working with a variety of patients on a daily basis.”
The doctor isn’t in. He’s on the farm. After a 40-year medical career, Henry Harden, MD66, left Pensacola and his family practice behind and headed for Mississippi, where he and his wife work on their farm and run two health food stores and a café.
Harden’s desire and drive for the medical profession was not just innate, but also inspired by his time in the College of Medicine.
“I have a lot of fond memories of my time (at UF). The study cubicles were great, and stand out in my mind as a place that was not always just for studying, but also to give us a social break and spend time with peers,” Harden said.
“But it was the teaching staff that made my education special. I learned a lot of practical information, and the instructors had compassion for the students and the field of medicine. They inspired you to make a difference.”
That inspiration lasted for more than 40 years, and instead of simply retiring, Harden began a new phase in his life. With four grown children from his first marriage, two of whom work in the medical field, Harden and his wife decided to move to Mississippi and raise their two teenage children. Now, Harden fills his days working with his wife to farm his land, raise his children and help run two health food stores and a café.
“I’m really enjoying my life now,” he said. “I miss my practice and still keep in touch with the people I worked with all those years. But farming gives me a new sense of fulfillment and I couldn’t be happier.”