Harry P. Lebow, real estate executive and clothing designer, dies

Harry Poe Lebow, a retired commercial real estate executive who formerly headed his family’s clothing manufacturing business and was a founding board member of the SEED School of Maryland, died of cancer June 30 at a his North Baltimore home. He was 76.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Bancroft Road, he was the son of Victor David Lebow, a clothing manufacturer, and his wife, Helen Kaufman.

He was a 1958 graduate of Baltimore City College, where he was a member of the swimming team and was later named to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Tulane University. While a student there, he met his future wife, Beth Flowers. They married in 1963 in Lexington, Miss., her hometown.

He joined his family’s clothing business at its New York sales office. Lebow Clothes was a division of After Six formal wear and made men’s suits and blazers at a Baltimore plant on East Oliver Street near Green Mount Cemetery.

In 1969 he and his wife returned to Baltimore on what they thought would be a one-year assignment. They decided to remain, and after the death of Mr. Lebow’s father, he became president of the business. He and held the post until 1982.

“No one in Baltimore knew the name After Six, but Lebow was well known,” said his daughter, Lisa Lebow Kaufman of Baltimore. “So many people have come up to me and said, ‘Your father’s firm made my wedding suit.’”

She and her brother, Bradley Harris Lebow, who also lives in Baltimore, said her father enjoyed his time running the clothing plant and supervising its nearly 300 employees.

“He talked to his workers as he walked around the factory floor,” said his daughter. “He had his eyes open to their problems and concerns. He heard how difficult it was to raise a family while living in a rough neighborhood. He once bought a house for one of his workers and rented it back to him so he could get out of the place he had been living. My father was always others-oriented.”

In 1982 he left the clothing business when After Six sold the division to another owner. The plant closed in 1985 and stood vacant until 2013, when it was renovated as the Baltimore Design School.

Mr. Lebow joined a real estate organization, the Shelter Group, based in downtown Baltimore. He headed its property management division and later headed asset management.

“Harry and I had known each other since we had gone to the same summer camp, Camp Wigwam in Maine,” said Mark Joseph, a Shelter Group executive and a former president of the Baltimore City school board. “He was a stand-up, fine man. He was hardworking and smart and an excellent businessman.

“He had good judgement and caring about the people he had met in his career,” Mr. Joseph added. “He also knew how to have a good time. He was a swimmer and a pool player.”

Mr. Lebow was a trustee of the Maryland Permanent Bank and Trust Co., a member of the Young President’s Organization and a president of the Chesapeake Chapter of the World’s President’s Organization.

He was a founding board member of the SEED School of Maryland, and sat on its executive committee.

Katie Carmen Byram, the school’s development director, said Mr. Lebow was a generous benefactor to the school, which is located off Frederick Avenue in Southwest Baltimore. He gave college scholarships, and a college center is named for him and his wife.

“He gave a school bus because he believed the students needed to leave campus and get out and see the world beyond it,” she said. “He was also very generous and in handing out Ravens tickets to students and staff.”

He enjoyed organizing SEED School field trips for visits to museums and events. The students named the bus after him, calling it LeBus.

“He had an understanding and a deep empathy for people who came from disadvantaged backgrounds,” she said. “As a volunteer for the school, he pushed people. He did not hold back or mince words. He was constantly pushing his peers on the board and the school’s leadership team to do their best. He was a sweet, kind and generous man, but he had high expectations for everyone around him.”

Eric Adler, a co-founder of the SEED Foundation, said: “Harry brought his financial gifts to the school, but he also brought his connections to other financial gifts. He also appreciated the importance of spending time with people and was also an enthusiastic presence, a fun guy to be around.”

Mr. Lebow was a member of the Associated Jewish Charities Investment Committee and served on the boards of the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Vocational Services.

He was a traveler and enjoyed horseback riding, tennis, skiing and scuba diving.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, a psychiatric social worker, and his son and daughter, survivors include a brother, Victor David Lebow Jr. of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.

A celebration of life was held todayat the Baltimore Country Club.


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