- Dr. h. c. Henry J. Leir
Dr. h. c. Henry J. Leir (1900-1998)
Known internationally as a key industrialist, Mr. Leir was very successful in the metals and mining industry in Luxembourg before expanding his business to thirty-five different countries, with offices in Luxembourg City, Düsseldorf, Mexico City, New York City, London, Paris, and Tokyo, to name a few locations.
Born on 28 January 1900, in Beuthen, Germany, Mr. Leir lost his father at the age of eleven and assumed the role of pater familias for his mother and siblings. In 1933, Mr. Leir read the signs correctly and left Germany for Luxembourg; in 1938, he was again forced to flee, this time, leaving Luxembourg for the United States.
Throughout his life, Mr. Leir displayed a love of languages, literature, and the arts in part for their ability to edify. In 1937, for example, he wrote a novel under the pseudonym of Tom Palmer, La Grande Compagnie de Colonisation, which, in those troubling times, presented a vision of a world that could achieve peace through the efforts of enlightened industrialists.
Mr. Leir received many honors in his life. He was offered honorary doctorates from several universities, as well as the French Legion of Honor and Luxembourg's Order of Merit, the highest honor awarded a civilian in the Grand Duchy.
Mr. Leir's richly complex, humanist, intelligent, and pragmatic approach to life provided fertile ground for his varied and extensive philanthropic activities as well. Upon selling his company in 1963, Mr. Leir established foundations that have made, and continue to make, generous gifts to hospitals, underprivileged children, Jewish institutions, and universities, among others.
Mr. Leir was a cultivated, visionary, compassionate, and generous industrialist, who did not forget the underprivileged. He was truly an astonishing individual with a strong sense of responsibility. He even went to work on the day before he died on 15 July 1998, at the age of 98.
The Henry J. Leir Luxembourg Program-Clark University continues to flourish through provisions made by Mr. Leir. It is to commemorate this multi-faceted and extraordinary gentleman, that his foundations, The Leir Charitable Foundations, continue his philanthropic work under the leadership of the President, Arthur Hoffman, and the Vice-President, Margot Gibis. It is in his philanthropic spirit of leaving the world in a better state than how it was found that we hope to contribute to Mr. Leir's memory.