Actress, Former Leader of Howard Theater Department, Passes

BY WI Staff | 3/26/2009, 9:22 a.m.

Henrietta €Henri€ Edmonds, 74, made her transition at Washington Hospital Center on Thursday March 12. She was surrounded by her Pastor, Rev. Sylvia Sumter, and a host of colleagues, students and friends. She was a resident of Silver Spring, Md., and a professor at Howard University€s Department of Theater. Henri was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc., and a former officer of The Arts Club of Washington. Earlier in her career she was a speech pathologist for Prince George€s County Public Schools.

Edmonds had been affiliated with Howard University€s Department of Theater for more than 30 years, and formerly directed the Departments of Theater and Drama. Recently, she learned that she had Leukemia. On Wed., March 12, she suffered a massive stroke. When the whistle sounded at Howard University€s Campus on Thursday morning, students, colleagues and friends flooded the Intensive Care Unit of the Washington Hospital Center. They talked, sang and prayed to her all day long, until she slipped away.
Edmonds was born in Baltimore and raised in New Orleans and Tallahassee, Fl. Her parents, Sheppard and Irene Edmonds, were on the theater faculty of what is now Florida A&M University, a Historically Black College. Just last month, Henri returned to Florida A&M to receive an award on behalf of her father. She received her Bachelor€s Degree from Fisk University in 1955, a Master€s Degree from Western Reserve University in 1956, and earned a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association in 1978. She received countless awards from Howard University, Prince George€s County Public Schools, Delta Sigma Theta Inc., and numerous theater organizations.

In 1979 her musical score for €Brother, Brother, Brother Mine,€ by Kelsey E. Collie won the coveted Dundalk International Maytime Festival. Later, in 2004 she played the role of Mary Thomas in the Emmy Award-winning HBO film €Something the Lord Made,€ along side Charles Dutton. More recently, in January, 2007, she released €The Georgia Avenue Bus,€ A book of short fiction stories that takes you on WMATA€s longest bus ride from Washington, DC, to Olney, Maryland.

€There€s a quality of life that€s on Georgia Avenue,€ Henri told the Washington Post in 2007. €The cooking odors, the way people greet you. I don€t care what problems you have, there€s always laughter. Pennsylvania Avenue is the intellect, K Street, that€s the business of Washington. But Georgia Avenue, that€s the heart and soul of the city.€

Although Edmonds had no immediate blood relatives, she always thought of the members at Unity of Washington, DC as her family. She was on the Church Choir and read €Twas the Night Before Christmas€ at the Holiday Concert every year. She always found ways to show her love to congregants. Often, she would cut flowers for the visitor€s gift packets before the ushers would arrive to church, purchase gifts for needy families at Christmas, invite members to attend and present for special events at The Arts Club of Washington, and she always found a way to give to the needy and many children at Unity.

The first service that Unity of Washington, DC will hold at its new location will be the Home Going Service for their beloved Henri. A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life, at 1225 R Street, NW on Sat. March 29 at 11a.m.