Herriot Alexis, M.D. 87 of Gulfport passed away July 14, 2018.
Dr. Alexis was born on December 28, 1930 in the southern coastal city of Jacmel, in the Republic of Haiti. He was the eldest of seven children born from the union of Couthon Alexis and Antoinette Depestre. His siblings are Georgette, Jean, Renee (deceased), Laure, Richard, and Micheline.
Early on, Herriot stood out in terms of his intellect. He began Primary school at l’Ecole des Frères, at the age of four years. He attended Secondary School at the Lycée Pinchinat in Jacmel, where he received his Baccalauréat degree. He then attended the Petit Séminaire St.Martial in the capital, Port-au-Prince for one year after briefly considering the priesthood. He decided after one year to pursue studies in medicine. Herriot’s religious education at the hands of Benedictine monks deeply influenced his character, resulting in a highly principled, disciplined, but generous man with very high standards. He was accepted into Medical School at the Faculté de Medicine et de Pharmacie de la Republique d’Haiti in 1948.
Herriot graduated from Medical School with honors in 1954 and began his training as a medical resident. He soon met the love of his life, Fleurette Delsoin, and they were married in 1955. While completing a rural residency in the mountains of Haiti, their joy was overshadowed by the death of their infant daughter, Rerette, who succumbed to an intestinal illness. Herriot and Fleurette overcame this tragedy and later returned to Port-au-Prince to work for the Department of Health. They went on to have five other children, Jean, Herve, Dominique, Marnel, and Jude who was born in the United States.
Herriot decided to move to the United States in 1964 to seek training in a medical specialty and to escape the political and economic turmoil in Haiti. He was accepted to an Internal Medicine Residency at the City of New York Department of Hospitals, receiving diplomas from Queens Hospital Center and Beekman Downtown Hospitals. Herriot’s wisdom, work ethic and leadership qualities earned him the position of Chief Resident. A Fellowship ensued at Long Island College of Medicine, where Herriot entered the new field of Nephrology. During his Fellowship, he participated in pioneering research studies in Renal Disease, Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis.
In the 1970’s, Herriot began a lifetime of hard work, opening a private practice in General Internal Medicine in Queens, New York, and a hospital-based Nephrology practice in Manhattan. He was devoted to his patients, who greatly respected and loved him. Herriot was sought after by his colleagues, who regarded him as the consummate physician, naturally endowed with the gift of healing.
Herriot was deeply affected by the loss of his grandson, Francois, from a tragic accident in 2016 and by the recent passing of Cesar, his friend, classmate, and “brother.”
Herriot was an excellent father. He set a high bar for his children from whom he expected nothing less than excellence. He made clear his expectation that they should take advantage of the opportunities afforded them in their newly adopted country. He let them know that he did not leave his beloved Haiti to see them fail, and made every sacrifice to ensure that his family had all the resources and comforts they needed. Herriot was grateful to live in America but was proud of his heritage as a man from the first independent nation of Latin America, a country born from the first successful slave revolt. He told countless stories about the history of Haiti and shared this pride with his children to ensure that their identity was strong.
In addition to his passion for medicine and great compassion for the suffering, Herriot had a love for art, music, travel, literature and poetry and he had an excellent command of written and spoken French. He enjoyed vigorous debate on the subject of politics, and enjoyed a good twelve year old single malt scotch. Herriot was a complex man of great depth who mastered science, medicine, classical music, and yet could still enjoy a good WWF wrestling match.
On July 14, 2018, Herriot took his last breath, and left behind a great legacy to his five children, his cherished daughters-in-law, his ten grandchildren, and his wife of sixty-two years, Fleurette, to whom he wrote countless love letters.
He will be greatly missed.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, July 19, 2018 from 5-7PM at:
David C. Gross Funeral Home,
6366 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.
A wake service will be at 6 PM.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated 9:30 AM Friday, Juy 20, 2018 at:
The Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle (Our Lady's Chapel).
Burial will follow in Woodlawn Memory Gardens.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Haiti Tree Project at:
David C. Gross Funeral Homes, Central Avenue Chapel in St. Petersburg is serving the family.