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Leon M.Genet ’53, SU benefactor and lecture sponsor, passes away at 74
Leon M. Genet ’53, real estate developer and active supporter and benefactor of Syracuse University, passed away Feb. 27 at age 74 in Short Hills, N.J., following a long illness. A funeral service was held in New Jersey.
In 1982, Genet founded the Sue Ann Genet Endowment Fund through the former College for Human Development in memory of his first wife, a textile artist and sculptor. The endowment supported the successful Sue Ann Genet Lecture Series offered by the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Sue Ann Genet Gallery in Slocum Hall.
From 1982-2004, Genet brought internationally prominent figures from retailing, fashion, and costume and decorative arts to campus throughout the academic year to share their experiences with students through the Genet Lecture Series. Past speakers include Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Nicole Miller, Todd Oldham, Oscar de la Renta and Martha Stewart, in addition to presidents and CEOs of major retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, The Gap and Revlon. In a 2000 interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard, Genet talked about the amount of patience and persistence it often took to persuade some of the series’ guests to fly to Syracuse, particularly during the winter months: “It’s knowing people,” he said. “It’s networking.” Over the series’ 22 years, Genet attended most of the lectures.
Opened in 1984, the Genet Gallery showcases VPA’s prized American Costume Collection, as well as visiting collections and works by faculty and students. Genet also contributed the naming gift for the renovation of Slocum Hall’s auditorium in 1983, also named for his late first wife.
Genet was a charter member of the College for Human Development Board of Visitors, a former member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and former co-chair of the Leadership Gifts Committee for The Campaign for Syracuse. In 1988, for his service to the University, Genet received both the Chancellor’s Medal for Outstanding Achievement and the College for Human Development’s CharlotteLerman Raphaelson Award for loyal, exceptional service. He received an Outstanding Alumni Award in 1991.
While a student at SU, Genet studied liberal arts and was active in Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity and the Arnold Air Society.
Genet was a partner with his brother Jerry in the Maplewood, N.J.-based Genet Realty, a commercial and industrial brokerage firm that sells retail-related real estate on the East Coast and often works with major fashion retailers. Genet brokered the sale or lease of Syracuse-area business sites as well, including development of the original Raymour Plaza on Erie Boulevard in DeWitt, the current home of Barnes and Noble and Raymour and Flanigan Furniture, and the sale of the old DeWitt Drive Inn on Erie Boulevard where a Hechinger’s and Price Chopper were later built.
Genet is survived by his wife of 14 years, Eileen Greenhouse Genet; daughters Pamela Barsh ’84, Jill Genet ’87 and Wendy Kaplan ’92; stepson Jonathan Greenhouse ’90; and stepdaughter Pamela Posner ’91.