Harold LeMay was born in Yakima, Washington on September 4, 1919 to Marie E. Couch LeMay and Joseph Emil LeMay. He was the youngest of three children, with his brother Emil Arthur “Buzz” and his sister Virginia. He came to Pierce County when he was 18 months old and was raised by “Aunt and Uncle” at Rocky Ridge. He graduated from Kapowsin High School, and Parkland was his home since 1942.
Always the entrepreneur, and just out of high school, Harold became a partner in an automobile business in the Lincoln District of Tacoma. Harold began Victory Bus routes shortly after World War II began, picking up workers and transporting them to the shipyards. After enlisting in the Navy as a Seabee, but before he left for duty 1944-1946, Harold bartered for one of his “buses” for his Spanaway Garbage Collection Company. This would later become the basis for Harold LeMay Enterprises, which he continued to build over the next 58 years.
The poverty of the Depression etched in his mind the need for self-reliance and faith in God. He knew the importance of education and community awareness. He took a class in Business Law at Pacific Lutheran University and Dale Carnegie’s “How to win Friends and Influence People” was his reference book in life. People were important to Harold. He always took time to listen to them and thanked them for their input, whether he agreed with them or not. His business was run with dedication and concern for the community and its environment.
Harold served on various boards, including his service as President of Elmhurst Mutual Co., Secretary-Treasurer for Washington Refuse and Recycling Association, Immanuel Baptist Church, and Parkland Round-Up. Harold held membership in the Lakewood Elks, Kiwanis, Daffodilians, Aberdeen Eagles, Chamber of Commerce, Tacoma Sportsman Club, International Society of Appraisers, American Historical Truck Society, Early Ford Club of America, Vintage Car Club of Canada, and the Model A, Model T, and Ford V8 Clubs in Tacoma, as well as others.
Harold E. LeMay Enterprises, Inc. evolved under Harold and Nancy’s leadership. It was comprised of solid waste and recyclables collection companies in Pierce, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Lewis, and Mason Counties. Other businesses included: Lucky Towing, Lucky Sales and Service, LeMay Restoration, AA Lucky Storage, Parkland Auto Wrecking, HELM Manufacturing, and numerous land holdings and rentals.
Harold lived just past his 81st birthday, passing away in 2000. The refuse businesses he built were sold in 2008. The name "Harold E. LeMay Enterprises, Inc." was part of the sale package, preserving his name and legacy in the communities he served for so many years. The Harold E. LeMay Skateboard Park in Spanaway, WA was also named for him in remembrance of his love and support of youth in the community, and it continues as a link to the history of "wheels" in America (albeit slightly different from the extensive car collection for which he has gained notoriety). The LeMay family's collection of cars continues to grow and is maintained under their direction.
CLICK HERE to read more about Harold LeMay and his connection to Marymount Academy.