Mansfield teacher’s memoirs describe 1930s African fauna

Seventy years after Mansfield educator Henry Lemieux wrote a book on Africa, his daughter had it published.

Seventy years after Mansfield educator Henry Lemieux wrote a book on Africa, his daughter had it published.

TEACHER’S MEMOIRS PUBLISHED: Margo Lemieux of Mansfield remembers growing up and seeing the old brown book at her home, the recollections of her father’s early teaching career in southern Sudan.

Henry Lemieux died in 2004 at age 94, but it wasn’t until last fall that she really looked at the book. After her mother had died in September, Margo was cleaning out the house and found the book a closet where it had been for 70 years. She then realized what it was: a detailed look at the animal life that her father, then a young teacher, had encountered while teaching in Africa.

Herny Lemieux's book cover


She retyped it and recreated a book to honor her father: “African Animal Life: A Memoir, 1931-1937.”

“It’s a series of very amusing essays,” said Lemieux, associate professor of fine art at Lasell College. “He’d typewritten it on carbon paper, and as I retyped it, I didn’t find a single spelling mistake.”

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Henry Lemieux, a longtime teacher and guidance counselor in Mansfield public schools, had gone to the Sudan with a religious order, she said, turning 21 on the long boat trip there. He worked in tiny villages teaching children, some of whom had to walk 12 days just to get to the town where a school was, she said.

“He wrote some amazing stories, like the one he’d heard about where another missionary had confronted a leopard in a chicken coop and when he went to shoot it, the leopard attacked and bit him and [he] was saved when it bit into the extra cartridges he had in his jacket,” she said.

He also wrote about how he watched students enjoying what they considered a delicacy: Flying ants.


“They knew which ant hills were the best,” she said, “and would pick them out of the air and eat them.”

Her father talked about his years there often, she said, and had long meant to get his book published, but never did. She said her efforts would please him, especially as it’s “written for ages grades six and above, he’d consider it a good teaching tool, a good place for kids to start their research on animals in Africa.”

Henry Lemieux was saddened by the tragedies that later befell Sudan, she said.

He was healthy until the end, she said, engaging in a variety of projects including genealogy research into his own family. And he wasn’t afraid to let his opinions be known. When the state adopted the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System of testing students, he wasn’t happy.

“He hated MCAS, thought it was the worst thing ever,” she said with a laugh. “He kept calling the governor’s office to complain until they finally called back to ask him to stop. But they had to tell my mother, my father was deaf by that point.”

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Steven Allen of Hanson was named managing director of Canton-based South Shore Staffing. He previously was an assistant vice president with BayBanks Credit Corp., and a national director with PharMerica Corp.

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More than $45,000 was raised at the Gala of Giving fund-raiser held at Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston hosted by the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra and Visiting Angels of the South Shore. The event raised money for the orchestra’s cultural outreach programs and the special needs emergency funds of South Shore Elders and Old Colony Elder Service. The gala “also raised awareness of the plight of elders who have difficulty meeting basic needs and the importance of the philharmonic’s programs that help keep music alive in our community,” said Nate Murray, president of Visiting Angels.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at
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