“My awareness of Lafayette, his amazing history and his unparalleled importance to America and the world goes back over fifty years. My father, Waights G. Henry, Jr., who served as President of LaGrange College 1948-1978, became interested in learning about the mid-18th to mid-19th century hero and honorary American citizen, the French Marquis de Lafayette, whose beloved home southeast of Paris was the Chateau de LaGrange. Being aware that the founders of our city had named it in honor of Lafayette, my father read much and collaborated with others with similar interests. Following his initial “discovery”in the early 1970’s of Ernest-Eugene Hiolle’s 1883 statue of Lafayette in Le Puy, France, it became his passion to help bring an exact copy of it to LaGrange, Georgia.”
George Henry’s wife Helen, and four young sons came from Lexington where Henry taught at the University of Kentucky Medical School. Henry remembers his boys climbed on the reclining statue for a few minutes the day before it was erected. Henry moved to Macon soon afterward, there would be many fond occasions to see the proud statue and to keep up with “goings-on” in LaGrange.
In 1995 Helen and Henry were able to move back to LaGrange, Helen served as United Methodist minister in the area, and Henry transferred his medical practice of psychiatry. Henry delighted in returning to so many roots. It was Henry’s privilege to chair the first Hydrangea Festival that centered on the twenty-year anniversary of the Statue of Lafayette in downtown LaGrange. The festive year with a celebration of “all things French,” included not only hydrangeas (a claimed French-developed horticultural propagation) but an entire year focused on associational connections to The Marquis de Lafayette.
Henry participates actively in the Lafayette Alliance, where there are genuine opportunities to explore further the values and principles associated with the incredible life and influences of “The Hero of Two Worlds” — and also to help others become inspired to commit themselves to promote more freedom, equity, and justice for everyone.