Cardinal Ritter graduates honor late President Leon Henderson

Posted by Aja J. Williams on

Recently, Nine Network American Graduate partner Cardinal Ritter College Prep lost a part of its family as former president Leon Henderson passed away.

American Graduate initiative director Shelly Williams and Cardinal Ritter graduates, who are also former Nine Network interns, shared their memories of him.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends at this time.


Nearly 3 years ago, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of meeting Mr. Henderson, then president of Cardinal Ritter and soon to be friend.  Our goal for the meeting was simple: discuss opportunities to create a collaborative partnership between Nine Network and Cardinal Ritter that would benefit both the students at Cardinal Ritter and Nine Network’s overall mission to engage more young people through media training and storytelling.  But I left the meeting with more than a list of action items.  I had a renewed passion for my work and a new friend.  I later learned that my experience with Mr. Henderson was not unique … I was simply one of many.  I thank Mr. Henderson for his passionate, thoughtful, and gracious leadership, for his ability to help students thrive, and for being a great friend to the Saint Louis community and me.  Nine Network is a proud partner of Cardinal Ritter and will continue bolstering Mr. Henderson’s legacy for many years to come.  

Contributed by: Shelly Williams, Initiative Director of American Graduate, Nine Network of Public Media


A person full of triumph, diligence, well-being and faith was Mr. Henderson. As he always stated, “He is a soldier of Christ,” he was a man built upon a strong faith and he reflected that in everything he did. He was a leader for many that were once lost, he gave hope and he gave Cardinal Ritter a strong community bond, something that the African-American community needs. Mr. Henderson gave knowledge and ambition to everyone that surrounded him. He was a reassurance that everything was going to be OK. He taught the Cardinal Ritter community to have a persistent and strong work ethic. Mr. Henderson has impacted the way I think, the way I view myself as an African American and has inspired me to keep faith in any situation. He was indeed a very powerful and influence.

Contributed by: Diamond Martin, sophomore at the University of Central Missouri 


For me, Mr. Henderson was more then the President of my high school. He was my role model. Being the president of a school whose mission statement is “Academic Excellence, Faith Development, and Leadership,” Mr. Henderson embodied all of those things and showered the community with those traits. I grew up around Mr. Henderson and that enabled me to get more of his wisdom and knowledge than what most students would get in their four-year high school careers. Mr. Henderson was the real definition of a Renaissance Man, as he was a man of multiple hats. He was not only a father, a friend, a brother, an uncle to those members in his family, but he was all of those things to each student that he came into contact with in his educational career. May Heaven take care of the man that the world was blessed to have known as Mr. Henderson. 

Contributed by: Tyler Murphy, junior at Truman State University 

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