Vivian E. Leonard

01/10/2012 3:17 PM |

Vivian E. Leonard of Riverhead died there Jan. 8, 2012, at the age of 90.

She was born May 4, 1921, in Riverhead to Fletcher and Lizzie (Banks) Booker, who came to Riverhead as part of the “Great Migration” of blacks from southern to northern states. They purchased farmland and established the town’s first middle-class African-American community by opening it to other migrants. Ms. Leonard grew up at the family homestead, which became a Riverhead Town landmark in 2008.

She served in the U.S. Army as a nurse, attaining the rank of lieutenant, and was stationed in Wisconsin. She later worked as a nurse in New York City.

The Booker family story was told in an exhibit, “Fletcher and Lizzie Booker: Pioneers in the Great Migration,” that ran from July through October 2009 at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. Ms. Leonard was there to cut the ribbon for the exhibit’s opening.

Predeceased by her husband, Isaac, in 2002, Ms. Leonard is survived by her sons, Isaac Jr., of the Philippines, and Raymond, of Maryland; her brother and sister, Raymond Booker and Carol Joynes, both of Riverhead; six grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren. She was also predeceased by her daughter, Triesta Marie, in 1949; her brother James Booker; and her sister Ruth Winn.

Visiting hours will take place Thursday, Jan. 12, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home in Riverhead. A service will be held Friday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Riverhead. Interment will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.