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Obituary: Harold Leviton, lighting industry innovator

Harold Leviton, chairman and CEO of Leviton Manufacturing Co. since 1965, died Sept. 8. He was 90 years old.

"I am deeply saddened that our industry has lost one of its foremost icons," said Donald J. Hendler, Leviton president. "Those of us who knew Harold had a deep admiration and tremendous respect for him as a businessman with infinite passion for the electrical industry.”

Born in 1917 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Leviton grew up in the family business, frequently joining his father, Isidor, 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 with a business degree in 1940, 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. Following the deaths of his brother Bernard and his father in 1965, Harold became president, CEO and chairman of the company.

Under his 42-year-long leadership, Little Neck, N.Y.-based Leviton Manufacturing grew to become one of the leading companies in the electrical industry with a product portfolio consisting of more than 25,000 products used in homes, businesses and industrial facilities.

Leviton was extremely active in the industry. He 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).

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.