The entire Bronx community suffered a deep and profound loss when a man who spent his entire life making the Bronx a better place to live passed away on Monday, October 20.
Bronx businessman and philanthropist Elias Karmon, the driving force behind the new Bronx Chamber of Commerce and a fixture in the borough’s business community since 1940, passed away peacefully at the age of 98.
Karmon, a Pelham Parkway resident, began as the proprietor of Hollywood Clothes, a haberdashery at Prospect Avenue and E. 163rd Street which he ran for 40 years, and invested large amounts of money in the south Bronx through his realty firm EMK Enterprises and was one of the founding members of the South Bronx Board of Trade when most had turned their backs on some areas of the borough.
“He was active in the first Bronx chamber, and he revitalized the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce in 2002,” said Lenny Caro, CEO of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “He was an inspiration to all of us and he gave me a lot of direction.”
Karmon, who graduated from New York University in 1932, with a B.A. in Commercial Science, was also Board Member Emeritus of Ponce de Leon Bank, and was one of its founders in 1959.
He also 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.
“Tere was nobody more philanthropic and generous not only with money and business strategies, but also with his time, to all of the organizations that form this borough,” said former Councilwoman and current New Bronx Chamber of Commerce vice-president June Eisland. “His legacy will live on in the Bronx forever.”
Senator Jeff Klein recalled that Karmon had a lasting impact on those who were fortunate enough to be touched by his generosity.
“When I was in the Assembly, I put together a networking committee at Tracey Towers, which Elias Karmon attended” Klein said. “A woman who lived in Tracey Towers broke down in tears when she saw Karmon because he had helped her years before when she was going to nursing school and couldn’t afford her uniform. He also helped her buy books, and pay it back on installment.”
The service for Elias Karmon is set for Thursday, October 23, at 11:30 a.m. at Louis Hirsch and Sons, 1225 Jerome Avenue.