Leviton’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Harold Leviton, died Sept. 8. He was 90 years old.
Born in 1917 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Leviton grew up with electricity and a passion for the electrical business. While his young contemporaries were out playing stickball or softball on Saturdays, he regularly accompanied his father on visits to the family’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn factory, where he spoke to employees at all levels of the company and learned the business from the ground up.
After graduating from the University of Miami, he began full-time employment at the company. Starting out in the stock room, he made his way through the company’s purchasing and personnel departments and eventually became director of personnel, where he diversified the workforce well before the nation’s anti-discrimination laws were legislated. With the passing of his older brother, Bernard, and his father, Isidor, two years later in 1965, he became president, CEO and chairman.
Leviton served as chairman of NEMA’s (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) Wiring Device Section and Building and Equipment Division and as an honorary member of its board of governors and chairman of the Electrical Manufacturing Council. In addition, he served as vice chairman emeritus of the National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF).
His sense of social responsibility and concern for the nation’s youth led him to institute the Leviton Industrial Arts Award, which has since become a prestigious accolade for New York High School students in the electrical trades. Leviton played an active role with the United Jewish Y’s of Long Island as both a benefactor and one-time president and chairman of its board. He was also a founder of Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
During his lifetime, he received numerous distinguished awards, including the Anti-Defamation Torch of Liberty Award; the Wire and Cable Club of America’s Charles D. Scott Distinguished Career Award; NEMA’s Falk Award; and the Medal of Merit of the Portuguese Communities, for the philanthropy and goodwill he extended to those of Portuguese descent after a devastating volcano struck the Azores.
His signature hobbies included creating latch hook rugs and cork trivets, which he often gave as gifts to friends, customers and associates.
He is survived by his wife of more than 65 years, Shirley; daughters, Patricia, Adrienne and Elizabeth; grandchildren, great-grandchildren and sons-in-law, Donald J. Hendler and Steven B. Sokolow, both of whom sit on the company’s board of directors and hold senior executive positions with Leviton.