Alexandrians, Others Remember Lenny Harris
Hundreds of people gather at the Charles Houston Rec Center to pay tribute to the beloved community activist.
Hundreds of friends, family and fans of Lenny Harris gathered Monday afternoon to celebrate his life and share memories of the Alexandria activist whose magnetic personality touched so many.
“The message we all need to take from this is ‘to do for others,” said Harris high school classmate Cheryl Hanback.
Fellow classmate Yvonne Daniels, who grew up in the same neighborhood as Harris, remembered him as a “wonderful human being” who was “always helpful.”
That theme resonated throughout the gathering at the Charles Houston Recreation Center gymnasium.
“He helped me and my brother get off the streets,” said Alexandria resident Stacey Tibbs, who met Harris in 1985. “He was a real father figure. He always looked out for some of us that didn’t have one. … We all called him ‘Big L.’”
“We really have to pick up where he left off [with his community work],” Tibbs said. “We have to keep helping people, even if they don’t want it. He called it paying it forward.”
“I saw him just before [he went missing],” Tibbs said. “I didn’t want to believe it. Now there’s this hole. … I already lost one father. Now I’ve lost two.”
City Councilman Frank Fannon told Patch that with the “tremendous outpouring of support for Lenny, you get the feeling of what Lenny meant to the citizens of Alexandria.”
“I always found him as someone who could put a smile on my face. And that’s rare in Alexandria,” said Pat Malone, an Old Town resident and cofounder of the Alexandria Aces baseball team. “Our friendship was really based on the community. Lenny’s voice is gone, but the work he did remains. Now we must carry on for him.”
Alexandria resident Boyd Walker said Harris had done a lot of the community, “and I hope the community continues what he started.”
Harris founded the nonprofit Operation HOPE and the One Love Festival, both which are expected to be carried on despite Harris’s untimely death in September. His funeral was held in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning.
City Councilwoman Del Pepper said Harris’s disappearance and news of his death was something the entire city followed intently, no matter what end of town they lived on.
“This really is a painful experience for the whole city,” Pepper said. “I’ll remember the fact that he was somebody who understood the value of deeds large and small. He loved this community, he loved his neighborhood and he really loved this rec center. … He made such a difference.”