Historical Fund Established after WW II

Leo Levy Memorial Fund established for short-term emergency loans to students.

Posted
January 17, 2021

Historical Fund Established after WW II

Leo Levy Memorial Fund established for short-term emergency loans to students.

Posted
January 17, 2021
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“My father was a very smart man, but he regretted that he never went to college, and wanted to give others the chance.”
Leo Levy was born in Houston in 1894 to a family who were Classical Reform Jews with great pride in America and its values. His father and brothers owned and operated Levy Brothers Dry Goods Company. The family was active in the community, and his uncle, Abe Levy, was one of the founders of Jewish Family Service and of Congregation Beth Israel. Leo’s father, Isaac, born in Houston in 1858 and mother, Carrie Landman Levy, of Whitney, Texas, lived there for a period, but returned to Houston in 1892, where they built a house on Crawford Street in which they resided for the balance of their lives.
Leo had one sister, Adele, whom he cherished (who married Albert Alcus “A.A.” Bath and had two children, Harriet Bath and Billie Bath Perlman). Leo was educated at Houston public schools and eventually attended Poughkeepsie Military Academy.
In 1922, Leo married Selma Roos, of Beaumont. She was active in the community, and particularly involved in Depelchin Children’s Center, and later in Sheltering Arms. Unusual for a woman of that time, she rose to leadership in the causes in which she believed she could assist. She was one of the first two women who were invited to serve on the Board of the Houston Community Chest, and later was the first female president of Jewish Family Service.
Leo and Selma were devoted to each other, and created a warm home for their two children, Irwin and Carolyn. Leo was passionate about Rice University and Owls football, and was nicknamed “Coach Levy” in articles by local sports writers. He had served in WWI and attended officer candidate training, serving in France in the 143rd Regiment of the 36th U.S. Infantry Division. After his service he worked in the family business, and eventually, in investments and real estate.
Leo and Selma had a strong interest in their children’s education. Irwin graduated from Purdue University and his sister, Carolyn Levy Clark, attended Sophie Newcomb College, where Billie Bath had preceded her. While Irwin was serving in the army in WWII, his father died suddenly in 1944, at age 49.
A family houseman, named Elva Steward, also served in WWII, and upon his return, was encouraged by the family to attend Texas Southern University on the GI Bill. This experience and the family’s interest in education gave Selma the impetus to create the Leo M. Levy Memorial Fund, to support students in pursuit of a college education. Mr. Steward eventually became Dean of Students at TSU.
“The fund was originally established to provide emergency grants or loans for students at local colleges, for financial aid in a crisis. It was established with $337, at a time when $10 could mean a lot to a struggling student,” recalls Irwin. Today the fund has grown much larger to keep pace with student needs. Irwin served on the Board of the agency in the late 1960s. The family’s pride in their parents’ role in assisting others continues to this day.

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