Surrounded by a throng of family and friends, Mr. Leon Garr celebrated his 95th birthday at the Leon & Mattie Garr Foundation in the heart of South Los Angeles. The event itself was a shinning example of the lives he’s touched and the economic and social impact Mr. Garr continues to have in California and his native state of Louisiana. From the sumptuous food to the valet service, local residents and their families benefited from a fitting tribute to one of America’s living business icons. “I’ve always believed in circulating economic resources in the community that I live and do business,” said Mr. Garr.
A native of Louisiana, Mr. Garr migrated to Los Angeles and created a multi-faceted business empire that included construction, real estate holdings, educational facilities and banking. Mr. Garr’s remarkable business career began in Louisiana, where he constructed one of the first buildings at Grambling College.
In the early 1940s he moved to Los Angeles and in 1958 co-founded Coast Construction Company. In 1963 he launched Garr Construction and built homes in Baldwin Hills, Brentwood, West LA and Willowbrook. Mr. Garr’s commitment to quality construction and customer service precipitated exponential growth; the company expanded into commercial development that included building facilities at Costa Mesa College, apartment complexes and strip malls in California and Nevada. Locally, Mr. Garr’s construction imprint includes Garr Children Centers, the Leon Garr Elderly Home and the Leon & Mattie Garr Foundation.
Moreover, when Founders Savings and Loan collapsed, Mr. Garr stepped in and bought the bank, infusing millions of dollars from his personal wealth and created Founders National Bank. Along his journey he has enriched the lives of individuals, families and communities through employment, business venture capital, sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropy.
At the celebration of his 95th birthday he received 13 proclamations for his extraordinary achievement and humanity. The Governors from California and Louisiana, along with the Mayor of Los Angeles where among the salutations presented to Mr. Garr on this momentous occasion.
Mr. Garr has been blessed with longevity and acuity; and he continues to manage his affairs while also enjoying stimulating conversation about world events. “I’m thankful that God has saw fit for me to keep on keeping on and I’m thankful that my enterprises continue to be of benefit to the community that I live in and love so much,” said Mr. Garr.