Niece Recalls Uncle’s Love for the Arts

Niece Recalls Uncle’s Love for the Arts

Leonard Anthony White. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Originally hailing from Norfolk, Va., Leonard Anthony White enthusiastically took in all the art and culture that his adopted New York City had to offer. A former student of ballet and modern dance, Leonard continued to enjoy the performing arts, frequenting operas and other shows at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center.

Leonard, who was a technician with Verizon, died on Sept. 11 while at work on the South Tower’s 110th floor. He was 57 years old. 

During his life, Leonard was eager to share his love for the arts with his family back in Virginia. His niece April Joyner recalls his generosity and enthusiasm in an oral history recorded by the 9/11 Memorial Museum:

“Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, he would come [to Virginia] bearing presents. As I started to get into music, he would give me musically oriented things. One Christmas, he gave me this violin, not an actual violin, but it was a toy really. It could play different songs, and you bowed over the strings, it played ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ It was funny because he knew how to play the toy and, at first, it took me a while to get the hang of it. I actually knew how to play the violin at that point, and he didn’t, but he was much better mastering that toy than I was. Just even from that, knowing that he always encouraged me, and he really loved the arts, and I played violin and piano, and so he encouraged me in that especially.”

As April grew older, Leonard wanted to help instill a sense of black history in his niece through talking about black artists and performers, like opera singer Leontyne Price. The last gift April received from her uncle Leonard was a real violin, which he pitched in to buy with April’s parents.

April played the violin throughout her college career. Although she’s not affiliated with an orchestra as an adult, she still cherishes the violin Leonard gave her and views it as a direct link to the uncle who always supported her musical ambitions.

The sounds of Leonard’s beloved classical music can be heard on the 9/11 Memorial plaza during this year’s Make Music New York event. More details can be found here.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff