Former Greenburgh Resident Henri A. LeGendre Passes
Henri Arthur LeGendre, born July 11, 1924 in New York, NY, in Harlem Hospital. He was the first born child of eleven children to his parents, Leopold Nathaniel (a Civil Engineer) and Claudene Francis (a Nurse) LeGendre, natives of Trinidad, W.I . As a child of the Great Depression, LeGendre was motivated to work hard and work smart. From a young age, Henri was actively involved in his community as a member and an acolyte of St. Phillips Church, Boy Scouts, and in school as an athlete running track (hurdles) At the age of 18, after graduating from Dewitt Clinton High School, Bronx, NY, he enlisted in the New York National Guard’s 15th Regiment and was stationed at Camp Smith in Peekskill, NY. After being discharged from the National Guard in 1942, LeGendre volunteered for and entered the U.S military service for the U.S Cavalry Service during WWII, starting with Quartermaster training. Then he was assigned to Troop A, 9th Cavalry Service, 2nd Cavalry Division, known as the “Buffalo Soldiers”, stationed in Fort Clark, Texas. His Mount (horse) was named Rusty which he loved until the end of his service. Together they patrolled the Texas border along the Rio Grande River. He also served as troop clerk, payroll and court martial clerk, and Secretary to the Commanding General of the 2nd Cavalry Division. The Notable baseball great, Jackie Robinson, was LeGendre’s executive officer in 1943 at Fort Clark, and they became business associates 25 years later. After serving in the military, Henri wanted to pursue a career in architecture. In 1943, he was chosen, along with 350 young black soldiers whose IQ levels were 120 or higher, by the military for the Army Specialized Training program (ASTP) at Howard University. At Howard, students would complete a four-year engineering degree in 18 months. The program was dissolved a year later and left many young black students to return to the Italian war front as infantrymen, cavalrymen, and medics. However, Henri would return to New York and complete his architectural degree at Pratt Institute. Henri became a Registered Architect in the state of New York and was the first African American architect for New York City’s Department of Public Works in 1952. Henri was in private practice designing public and private projects in New York City, the State of New York, the US Virgin Islands, North and South Carolina, Minneapolis and the Bahamas. His first architectural firm was Henri A. LeGendre & Associates, where he mentored young budding architects whose careers developed from his teachings of drafting skills and business acumen including his daughter Laurette. Over the course of his career, Henri was a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Empire State Association of Architects, New York Society of Architects, American Society of Military Engineers, Construction Specifications Institute, American Society of Professional Estimators, and the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineers and one of the founding members of the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA). Henri was initiated into the Alpha Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in New York, NY. As well as being initiated as a Prince Hall Freemason, Euclid Lodge #80. Henri would hold the positions of National Financial Secretary and past president of the 369th Veterans Association, Inc. (Harlem Hellfighters) Henri would end up meeting the love of his life, Ruth Esther LeGendre (Nee Mills), and married in 1948. Through their union, they gave birth to three children: Renee Denise LeGendre, Laurette Michele LeGendre, and Jacques Henri Robert LeGendre. They migrated to White Plains, NY, and became a part of the town of Greenburgh Community. While all three of his children matriculated through the Valhalla School District, where he served as the first African American on the Valhalla School District Board for 12 years ending his tenure as Board President. LeGendre left his imprint as a community and civil rights activist. As he retired and relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, he remained active within his community and organizations. He was also a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Henri made his final transition on the morning of July 12, 2020 at the Saad Hospice in Mobile, AL He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth (2007); son, Jacques (2010); and siblings: Lurline Baxter, Ruby Paulin, Leroy LeGendre, Rae LeGendre, Andre John LeGendre, Adrina Watts, Pierre LeGendre and Joan LeGendre. Henri is survived by his daughters: Renee LeGendre and Laurette LeGendre, AIA; his grandsons: Desmond and Dorian Purse; three great-grandchildren: Zoe, Zayne and Zuri. He leaves behind two sisters: Claudene LeGendre and Jean Crichlow; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren and friends that are too numerous to mention.