Henry Edward GreenupMay 7, 1921 ~ January 16, 2017 (age 95)
Henry Edward Greenup, often known as “Hank,” “Mr. Greenup,” “Brother Henry,” “Brother Greenup,” “Mr. G,” “Mr. Henry,” “Ironman,” “Mr. Seventh Avenue,” “Unc,” and “Daddy,” lived a good life. He was born on May 7, 1921 to Wallace and Emiline Greenup in Baton Rouge, LA, and he was the eighth of eleven children. Henry grew up on a large farm that his parents owned, riding horses, herding cows, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. As a teen, his parents charged him with the responsibility of earning his own money by managing his own parcel on the family farm and making deliveries. His childhood on the farm instilled the values of land, natural food, and self-reliance.
Henry received his primary education in a one-room schoolhouse, where he took advantage of hearing the teacher’s more advanced lessons to his schoolmates. He later attended McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, LA. Industrious since childhood, he made deliveries on his bike to Louisiana State University and chauffeured for wealthy families around town. During the Great Depression, the family lost its farm and Henry moved to New Orleans, where he worked as a longshoreman.
In 1944, he enlisted in a segregated army by joining the 673rd Ordinance Ammunition Company as a cook’s helper. He fought in the Campaign of Rhineland during World War II, where the 673rd saw combat in the European Theater and the Philippines Islands. During his time in the service, he was trained as a military marksman and meat cutter. He also proudly received the Asiatic-Pacific Service Ribbon, the American Theater Ribbon, the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations Bronze Service Star, the World War II Victory Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal. Always industrious, Henry was able to amply support his family while he was away. He came up with ingenious ways to make extra money to send home. He discovered he could make a good profit by saving and selling his disbursements from the canteen, as well as loaning money and hosting poker games. After choosing to serve his country during a time of rampant racism and a segregated army, he joined a distinguished group of African American trailblazers. These men fought to eliminate the walls and barriers of the Jim Crow Era to make a better United States of America. Henry was discharged as a corporal in an integrated army in 1948.
Shortly after retiring from the Armed Forces, Henry came to visit his friends in New York City. While walking down the street in Brooklyn, they were approached by a woman whose real estate salesmen were all off at war and she thought he would be good for her burgeoning real estate business. He took the job and made a new home for himself in New York City. Over the decades Henry took advantage of the GI Bill to further his education and hone his entrepreneurial skills. In addition to the training and certifications he received while in the military, Henry also attended Brooklyn College. He became a real estate agent, the first Black salesperson for Sterling Meat Packing, and their representative to the Meat Packers Association.
The skills Henry obtained as a representative encouraged him to open “Henry’s Butcher Shop and Grocery.” The business, located on Lenox Avenue, was the first Kosher meat market in Harlem. The market soon became a staple in the community as well as an apprentice center where he offered young butchers training and mentoring.
Henry saw the many needs of his community and strived to meet them. He owned and operated nightclubs and restaurants in downtown Manhattan and Harlem. At one point, he also managed the famous Harlem restaurant, Wells, the home of chicken and waffles. Henry partnered with Harlem Hospital in launching the Women, Infant & Children (WIC) Baby Formula Program and successfully provided affordable and quality housing in Harlem for the past forty years.
Henry Greenup was a treasured member of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, where he served on the Senior Men’s Usher Board as well as an active participant of the Brotherhood. Mr. Greenup remained true to his family values of giving back through his community involvement, philanthropy, and encouragement. This was reflected in his membership in various national and local organizations such as The Masonic Order of the Shriners and the founding chapter of 100 Black Men of New York, Inc. His career and personal life were distinctly marked by acts of sacrifice, selflessness, and courage as well as concern for both his own and the international community.
In addition to this full and prosperous life, Henry was a loving and supportive family man, a devoted husband and father. He was predeceased by his parents Wallace and Emiline Greenup; his brothers Wallace, Lawrence, Fred, and Jeff Greenup; his sisters Alice Greenup, Carol Greenup, Rosa Lee Woods, and Lenora Walden; his wife, Vivian Sherman Greenup; his son, Dennis Greenup and previous wife Joyce Greenup. He is survived by his loving daughter; Valencia Sherman-Greenup; his sister, Virgie Hopkins; his brother, David Greenup; and several nieces, nephews, cousins and many close friends who will miss him dearly. Henry Greenup’s life will be celebrated with services in Harlem, New York and Whigham, Georgia. He will be laid to rest next to his wife, Vivian, in Whigham, Georgia. May they rest in peace together.