Henderson’s best-known work is “Nature of Nursing,” which was published in 1966. In the book, she drew from her knowledge and experience to describe what she considered to be the essence of nursing. The most famous passage from the book defines what nurses do:
“The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery [or to peaceful death] that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge. And to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible.”
After retiring from Yale in 1971, she devoted the rest of her life to speaking about nursing around the world.
After eating chocolate cake and ice cream with family and friends, she died peacefully in 1996 in Branford, Conn.