Former Free Methodist Church – USA Board of Administration member Norman Leenhouts achieved success in real estate, but his greatest passions were serving Jesus Christ and helping other people.
“There’s no greater joy than helping others. It’s fun, and it’s a great blessing to be able to do that,” Leenhouts said in an interview for a profile of him and his wife, Arlene, in the November issue of Light + Life Magazine. Leenhouts did not want publicity for his generosity, and he only agreed to be interviewed for the article — titled “Giving, Trusting and Blessing” — after the author explained the purpose would be to encourage others to give as an act of worship.
Leenhouts, 81, peacefully departed this earthly life Jan. 7 at his Rochester home with his family at his side, according to a news release from Broadstone Real Estate LLC that he co-founded. He is now united with his Savior whom he served so well.
“The news of Norm’s passing into the arms of Jesus demands a pause in our busy lives,” Bishop David Roller said in a message to fellow members of the Roberts Wesleyan College/Northeastern Seminary Board on which Leenhouts served with Roller. “The reason Norm and Arlene struck me as exceptional people is that they managed the wealth/God-tension with a unique grace, humility and intentionality. Beyond their wisdom and spirituality, which we see in many people, they had a unique opportunity to manage the opportunities and challenges associated with wealth.
“Preachers may be hesitant to approach the many teachings of our Lord on the dangers of wealth. But, especially in the Gospel of Luke, it’s clear that the mastery, which money can have over us, is a huge danger to all, not just the wealthy. Jesus said it; Norm lived it,” Roller continued. “So here are Norm and Arlene, sterling examples of followers of Jesus who didn’t let money control them; they heard the admonitions of Jesus and obeyed them. They kept their lives right-side up. Everyone who knows them mentions their humility and their generosity — an amazing witness to their priorities.”
Along with his service to the FMCUSA and Roberts Wesleyan/Northeastern, he served on the boards of the University of Rochester, Edgewood Free Methodist Church, Heritage Christian Foundation, Charles Finney School, Strong National Museum of Play, Park Ridge (Unity) Hospital, Manufacturers Hanover and the Financial Executives Institute. Work accomplishments were only one piece of the puzzle for Leenhouts, who cared deeply for his family and church, and espoused the importance of community service. Along with his wife, Arlene, the family’s exceptional (and quiet) generosity touched the lives of many and benefited a myriad of organizations dear to the family, including those mentioned above as well as several other local community organizations such as the Open Door Mission, the United Way, the Rochester Area Foundation and Youth for Christ. He also supported universities in India, Haiti and Africa, and he took mission trips to Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
“The poor, and people in the middle like me, can also be overtaken by money. Men and women like Norm and Arlene serve as models for us all to remember we can only serve one master. It was always clear to everyone who Norm’s master was,” Roller said. “The phrase, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ reminds us that we are all servants. Norm got that; that he wasn’t the master, wealth wasn’t the master, only the God of the universe was his master. We are all His humble servants.”
The bishop added, “Thanks, Norm, for one of the best sermons we’ll ever see lived. And now enjoy the riches of eternity! For we who remain, we’ll put into practice what Jesus taught and you demonstrated.”
Norman Leenhouts grew up with twin brother, Nelson, on the family farm in Ontario, New York. In 1967, the brothers founded Home Leasing Corp., which they grew into a successful real estate development business. Norman and Nelson went on to form and co-lead Home Properties as a public company in 1994, operating as co-chief executive officers until 2003.
In 2006, along with his daughter, Amy Tait, and her husband, Bob Tait, Norman Leenhouts co-founded Broadstone, where he served as chief investment officer and as an officer and director of the firm’s two private real estate investment trusts (REITs), Broadstone Net Lease and Broadtree Homes (currently Broadtree Residential) from their inception until June 2015. In the time since, he served as a senior adviser to Broadstone and as principal of Sylvanview LLC, his most recent business venture.
“My father will best be remembered by his entrepreneurial spirit, humble generosity, kind heart and brilliant mind. It was an honor and remarkable experience for me to be able to work with him for over three decades,” Broadstone Chairman and CEO Amy Tait said. “His legacy will live on with the many, many people that he has mentored and influenced in his lifetime.”
Norman is survived by his loving wife, Arlene; daughters Laurie Leenhouts and Amy (Bob) Tait; twin brother, Nelson (Nancy) Leenhouts; sister, Martha Leenhouts; grandchildren Jason (Nicole) Tones, Brandon (Michelle) Tones, Alexander Tait and Margaret Tait; four great-grandchildren, and countless friends and colleagues.
A memorial service will celebrate the life of Norman Leenhouts at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in the Hale Auditorium at the Cultural Life Center of Roberts Wesleyan College, 2301 Westside Drive, Rochester, NY 14624. Doors will open at 1 p.m. For those unable to attend, the service will be live-streamed, and can be viewed via this link. The campus flags will be lowered to pay tribute.
To honor Norman, in lieu of flowers, the family has requested that gifts be made to the Rochester Youth for Christ or the University of Rochester Comprehensive Stroke Center or to any charity of choice.
Broadstone Real Estate news release: Broadstone Announces the Death of Co-Founder Norman Leenhouts
Democrat & Chronicle newspaper: Norman Leenhouts, co-founder of Home Properties, dies
Light + Life Magazine: Giving, Trusting and Blessing
Murphy Funeral & Cremation Chapels: Norman Peter Leenhouts Memorial Page
Roberts Wesleyan College: Roberts & Northeastern Mourn the Loss of Trustee Norman P. Leenhouts
University of Rochester: University Life Trustee Norman Leenhouts dies at age 811