An Abundance of Family
He may have been earning a fireman's salary, but Ronnie Lee Henderson planned all along to turn that into more. He pared money from his paycheck and put it into bonds and mutual funds. In the quiet hours at the Engine Company 279 firehouse in Red Hook, he could be found reading books with titles like "How to Make Money Buying and Selling Houses."
"I'd say to him, 'What are you doing? You're a fireman, you know what we get paid,' " said a friend, Gary Kakeh.
The father of four children, Mr. Henderson also helped raise his five younger siblings. His advice to all of them was consistent: stay in school, save your money. He figured out travel routes that enabled him to avoid paying bridge and tunnel tolls, and would stand in line for hours to get the store specials, said his sister, Sharon.
As a teenager, he got a job in a Frito-Lay factory and got to bring home the extra potato chips. Naturally, he shared them with the rest of his family. "And he'd charge us a nickel," she added.
"He was always telling us he was going to be a millionaire," Ms. Henderson said. "He was a millionaire, by his heart."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 18, 2001.