James Henri, doorman at 340 On The Park, has always enjoyed working with people. Before assuming front desk responsibilities at the city’s second tallest residential building, he spent decades in hospital administration, hotel security, and public education.
But the immeasurably professional Mr. Henri, who also earned a degree in Education from Cornell College in Iowa, credits the tenants of the building for his success. “We have doctors, lawyers, CEOs,” he says. “They are down-to-earth and they’ve embraced me and included me in their families.”
He came to 340 by way of a recommendation from a tenant in a condominium where he worked before pursuing the position.
“She was moving out and I said, ‘I hate to see you leave,” he recalls. “And she said, ‘you ought to come with us.’”
Mr. Henri joined the team that helped inaugurate the high-rise when it opened in 2007 and has fostered a number of admirers ever since.
“There isn’t a person whose name he doesn’t know,” says Betsy Gilfillan, a tenant in the building. “He set the standard for great service and he is a joy to see every time we walk through the lobby.”
This respect for other people has been a part of Mr. Henri’s character since he was a child growing up in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago’s south side.
“I am from a mixed-race family,” he explains. “My father was African-American and my mother was white. It could be intense.”
Mr. Henri was taught about patience, respect and ambition by his parents, who remained together throughout their entire lives.
“We couldn’t use the word ‘hate’ in our household,” he explains. “Because it’s a learned behavior.”
The rule was applied to every aspect of the family’s life. “I don’t like asparagus and I don’t like Brussels sprouts,” he says. “But I can’t say I hate them.”
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