Biographical Information:
Dates: 1900-1998Dates in Ridgefield: 1954-
nonfictionAmerican industrialist, philanthropist
Born in Prussian Silesia in 1900, Henry J. Leir moved to Luxembourg in 1933, where he founded the Societe Anonyme des Minerais, which became the foundation of his business empire. In 1937, he wrote La Grande Compagnie de Colonisation under the pseudonym Tom Palmer; a novel, it tells the story of a corporation chartered with the purpose of developing unpopulated regions of the world. In 1938 he emigrated to the United States, where he founded the Continental Ore Company. By the end of the war he was “ready to give form and shape to of unfettered world trade.” He moved to Ridgefield in 1954 and supported philanthropic causes, including endowments to several university chairs such as Tufts University and Clark University, where he founded the school’s Luxembourg program. His philanthropy extended to Ridgefield itself and, through the Leir Charitable Foundation, he contributed $500,000 to the Aldrich Museum in 1996 and, later, $10,000 to Ridgefield Sunrise Cottage, a residence for members of the community with disabilities. He died in 1998.
Title:La Grande Compagnie de Colonisation: Documents of a New Plan, 1981 edition
--Sources: Notable Ridgefielders–Jack Sanders; Wikipedia; the preface to his book; the Ridgefield Press