Elias Karmon’s legacy remembered

Elias Karmon (center) was mourned in a huge memorial service by Bronxites on Thursday, October 23.

Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. and one thousand other mourners attended a funeral service for a Bronx businessman and philanthropist who left an ever-lasting mark on the Bronx when he passed away at the age of 98. 

In a memorial service held on Thursday, October 23 at Louis Hirsch and Sons Funeral Home, mourners from across the Bronx’s business, cultural, and social spectrum came to pay tribute to Elias Karmon, a philanthropist known around the borough as “Mr. Bronx.”

Karmon was the driving force behind the establishment of the South Bronx Board of Trade and the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce, and remained active as a philanthropist, and businessman through his real estate firm, EMK Enterprises, through his passing on October 11.

At the funeral service, Karmon’s daughter Sharon Landsberg reminisced about many of the fond memories she had of her father.

"Daddy always used to take us out on Sunday’s to a bookstore on Allerton Avenue, and then we would come home and watch Ed Sullivan on television,” Landsberg said. “I remember my father on my 16th birthday, in his white dinner jacket, doing the Eli dance with my friends to the Beatles. He was quite a flirt.”

Landsberg recalled at the memorial service that he father was a very active collector of all Bronx memorabilia, and swam in the Bronx House swimming pool and elsewhere well into his seventies and eighties.  

Others recalled that Karmon was a tireless philanthropist, who gave to many charities and bought south Bronx real estate at a time when many property owners were abandoning their buildings. But besides all else, they recalled Karmon as a man who truly loved life.

“He said that if you want to look for your hearts desire, you don’t have to look any further than your own backyard,” said Karmon’s friend Eliezer Rodriguez. “Elias Karmon is a legend.”

Karmon began as the proprietor of Hollywood Clothes, a haberdashery at Prospect Avenue and E. 163rd Street that he ran for 40 years. He founded the store in 1940 and among his customers were several Yankee greats and future Secretary of State Colin Powell. 

Karmon, who graduated from New York University in 1932 with a B.A. in Commercial Science, was Board Member Emeritus of Ponce de Leon Bank, and was one of its founders in 1959.

In addition to investing in south Bronx real estate, Karmon served on the boards of Bronx House, South Bronx Mental Health Council, the Bronx Dance Theater, Bronx Community College Foundation, Beth Abraham Hospital Foundation, Bronx Jewish Community Council, Bronx Special Olympics, Bronx Boys and Girls Club, Bronx Y.M.C.A. and many others.

Karmon was interred at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey.


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