“Mr. Bronx” is still receiving honors.
The works and deeds of Bronx philanthropist, community advocate and businessman Elias Karmon, known for generations as “Mr. Bronx,” were recognized with the honorary renaming of the intersection of Thwaites Place and Barker Avenue, near where he lived in Pelham Parkway, as “Elias Karmon Way” on Sunday, July 13.
This is not the first time Karmon, a booster for many borough organizations, who passed away in 2008, has had something named after him. There are buildings throughout the borough aptly named after the generous contributor to so many Bronx causes.
The street renaming was intimate. According to attendee Robert Nolan, a couple of dozen family members and friends were present for the ceremony.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who advocated for the street renaming in the City Council, joined with Karmon’s family to unveil the new street-overlay sign.
“Elias Karmon devoted his life to the Bronx, and I think this tribute is the least we can do to repay the favor,” said Vacca. “Now ‘Mr. Bronx’ will be a part of the borough he loved forever.”
Vacca was joined in his sentiments by state Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.
“Elias embodied the best of the Bronx - kind, hard-working and generous of spirit, he inspired everyone who crossed his path,” said Klein. “While Elias Karmon will live on as a street in our community, his impact on the Bronx will be felt across our borough for generations to come.”
Gjonaj concurred, saying that “it is important to keep the memories of loved ones alive,” adding that he is “grateful to be able to share this moment with Elias’ family, friends and neighbors that have known him for his generosity and love for this community.”
He served as president of the original Bronx Chamber of Commerce for four years, and also held the positions of treasurer, second vice-president and first vice-president. He was named chairman emiretus of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce which he almost, single-handedly, restarted in 2001.
Mr. Bronx helped rebuild the parts of the Bronx impacted by abandonment as one of the founders of Ponce de Leon Federal Bank, one of the few organizations that provided financial services to many residents there in the 1970s and 80s.
He was also a board member of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the 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 and Bronx Y.M.C.A.
Karmon’s generous donation greatly aided the Bronx YMCA’s efforts to build its current modern facility and indoor pool on Castle Hill Avenue. The pool also carries Elias’ name.
He also served as president of the Pelham Parkway Jewish Center, and chairman and founding member of the borough’s branch of the Urban League. The borough colleges of CUNY also award an annual scholarship in his honor.