American Patriotic 10

Leonard Nathanial Henderson

February 11, 1942 ~ July 20, 2019 (age 77)


In Remembrance

Called ‘Leonard’ by his Henderson family, ‘Lenny’ throughout his school years and ‘Len’ in his professional career, Leonard Nathaniel Henderson was known by all for his love of people and outgoing personality. Born on February 11, 1942 in Mount Vernon, New York, he was the third son of the late Rev. & Mrs. Allierson R. Henderson, Sr. [Lucelia Shirley Starvis].  At the age of 12, the death of his father propelled him into manhood. With two older brothers leaving home and a one-year old brother remaining, he became the “man of the house”. Under the guidance of a strong mother he learned to cook, clean a house and care for a young child; skills he successfully utilized for the rest of his life. 

Len’s life long passion for baseball was triggered when his father purchased him his first baseball mitt, enrolled him in a Mount Vernon Little League baseball team and integrated the team. At A.B. Davis High School he was a key player and only Black on their baseball team when they won the 1959 Westchester County baseball championship. In high school baseball was not the only sport where Len exceeded. Due to his statue he was often mistaken for the water boy (per teammate Bruce Fabricant), but he was the quarterback for the football team.

In 1960, he took his baseball skills and experience with him to Howard University’s baseball team and at the end of his sophomore year he led the nation in stolen bases and had a .370 batting average.  He served as captain of the Bison’s’ baseball team his junior and senior years.

In 1964, Len received his BA in Accounting and in 1968 his Juris Doctor (JD) from Howard’s School of Law. Throughout the years he was a devoted Howard alumnus participating in homecomings, class reunions, fund raising activities and most recently luncheons of the ‘Howard Men 50/60’s Era’.

When interviewing for a position with MetLife’s New York law department, a MetLife executive was impressed by his outgoing personality and gift for gab and offered him a position in their JD/MBA Sales & Management Program. They were willing to wait until his Air Force ROTC commitment was completed.

During his tour as a Captain at Mount Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Len participated in never again activities such as skiing and snowmobiling at Sun Valley. He even practiced a little law on the side representing airmen in non-military offenses.

Upon completion of his military tour he began his waiting position with MetLife.  This was the beginning of a lifelong career and passion – insurance marketing and management. He immediately passed the exams for Charted Life Underwriter (CLU) and NASD securities representative. Starting in the DC Metro area he quickly moved up the MetLife management ladder which took him and his family to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and the Dayton-Cincinnati region. He retired as a Senior Lobbyist in their Washington Government Affairs Office.  Len developed an expertise and reputation as one skilled in marketing and turning around struggling insurance operations which led to many consulting opportunities post retirement.  Throughout his career Len had influential mentors and he mentored as well, assisting many sales representatives & managers to achieve financial and career success.

“As quiet as its kept” [his favorite saying], Len

  • Was inducted in 1965 into Omicron Lambda Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. At the time it was an intermediate chapter at Howard University for graduate and professional school students. He remained a proud Alpha Man.
  • Was inducted into the Idaho State Bar upon passing in 1970, one of few Black members at that time.
  • Like his father before him, became a member of the Prince Hall Masons while stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
  • Was an active member of the National Urban League and president of its Fort Wayne, Indiana Chapter in mid-1970s
  • Participated in BEEP (Black Executive Exchange Program) a program of the National Urban League to loan African-American executives to colleges as "Visiting Professors."
  • Participated in the Leadership Dayton (Ohio) development program 
  • Received in 1983, a Black Achievers in Industry award from the Harlem Branch YMCA of Greater New York

Kept even quitter [he was an expert at this], Len had passed the milestone of five-year cancer survivorship. Len was an optimist; he believed in the power of positive thinking. Explained that it may not help him but might help others, he willingly participated in several clinical trials related to metastatic prostate cancer. Len was a people person and soon became well known at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

As a child, Leonard Nathaniel was baptized in the family church, Unity Baptist in Mount Vernon. In the summer of 2018, he sought redemption under the spiritual guidance of Atlanta friends, the Reverend Leroy Carter and Dr. Walker Moore. Seeking comfort, he diligently read the Bible they gifted him. In 2019, he took the next step by joining Locust United Methodist Church in Columbia, and in late June received his final communion by then Pastor Jane Wood.

“At the end of the day” [another of his favorite sayings], Len is now reunited with his parents, brother Allierson R. Henderson, Jr., brother William V. Henderson, Sr., good friends James Carter, Gary Cole, Claude Patmon, Harold Rivers and many others. He is survived by wife of 55 years, Althea Kitola Pleasants, daughter Michelle Henderson-Green (Kelvin), daughter Courtney L. Henderson, MD, namesake & beloved grandson Kyle Nathaniel Henderson, brother Eldridge Monte Henderson, sisters-in-law Anita Henderson and Carmen Pearson and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

He loved and was loved.

He will always be remembered.

To send flowers to Leonard's family, please visit our floral section.


Memorial Service
September 7, 2019

12:00 PM
Dunbarton Chapel, Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008

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