Publication Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Henry M. Sperry

Henry Muhlenberg Sperry, 96, a longtime resident of Portola Valley, died April 25.

He was born May 16, 1906, in New York. He was a descendant of the Muhlenberg family, which included Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787), the founder of the Lutheran church in America, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (1746-1807), a clergyman who served as a general in Washington's army and later a congressman, and Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (1750-1801), a clergyman, congressman and first Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He grew up in New York City and in Denmark (1914-1915) and graduated form Horace Mann School in New York City in 1924 and from Columbia University in 1928. He joined the National City Bank of New York (now Citigroup) in 1930 and retired in 1967.

During his 37 years with Citigroup, he spent only the first three years in New York. He was then posted to Kobe and Osaka, Japan, Shanghai and Hankow, China, Manila and more than 20 years in Hong Kong. He was interned by the Japanese in Manila from January, 1942, until liberated by the U.S. 11th Airborne in February, 1945.

During internment he met Ansie Lee, a Chinese girl from Hong Kong and they were married on July 6, 1946 in Shanghai. He was transferred to Hong Kong in 1949, having left Shanghai in April just before the communists captured the city. He retired from Citigroup in 1967 as Resident Vice President with supervision over the Hong Kong branches, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, travelling extensively.

After a brief retirement in Connecticut, "Hank," as he was known, returned to the Far East as a consultant to banks in Singapore and Bangkok. He was then asked to represent several U.o represent several U.S. banks in Hong Kong, opening a branch of the Allied Bank in Hong Kong. He was the first Executive Director and later President and Chairman of American Asian Bank in San Francisco. He and his wife moved to Portola Valley in 1973.

He was a member of the Menlo Country Club and the University Club of San Francisco. He was also a life member of Hong Kong clubs: the Hong Kong Club, the American Club, Shek-O Country Club, the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. He was a member of Christ Church, Portola Valley, and volunteered for organizations for the mentally ill.

He is survived by his wife, Ansie Lee Sperry of Portola Valley; daughter, Vicky Merchant of Portola Valley; son, Fred Sperry of Redwood City; and two grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mateo Lodge, Inc., 420 Cassia St., Redwood City 94063; or a charity of choice.