Lillie Mary Henson was born in Greenville, South Carolina on 12 September 1916, and graduated from high school in nearby Tryon, North Carolina, in 1934. She graduated in 1938 from nursing school at Asheville Mission Hospital, North Carolina. Two months later she went to work as a nurse at a hospital in Sylva, North Carolina.
In 1941, Henson enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps. Her first assignment was at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She was sent overseas in 1942 and stationed briefly near Birmingham, England, before being sent to Sidi-bel-Abbes, Algeria. Henson was later transferred to a hospital just outside of Naples, Italy. Upon returning to the States, Henson was stationed in Swannanoa, North Carolina. She left the army in 1945.
After her service, Henson enrolled at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), where she earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing. She then attended Duke University for a year obtaining a degree in nursing education. Henson then worked as a nursing instructor at Charlotte Memorial Hospital for many years. She also worked as a nursing instructor in Maywood, Illinois; Muskogee, Okalahoma; and Kerrville, Texas before settling in Landrum, South Carolina. She died on 9 June, 2011 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.