Residents of Charlotte, North Carolina were saddened this week to learn that philanthropist and legendary businessman Leon Levine had passed away at the age of 85.
According to The Charlotte Observer, Levine got his start in business as a child when he helped his parents run their department store.
"I learned a lot about business and people in that store. You quickly learned the customer is the most important person," Levine was quoted as telling the Observer in a 2009 interview.
He went on to found the first Family Dollar Store in 1959 at the age of 22 and then opened a second location a year later.
The company had 100 outlets running by 1971 and 1000 by 1985. It would eventually come to operate over 9,000 stores by 2019.
In addition to founding the Family Dollar Store chain, Levine also created a nonprofit organization called The Leon Levine Foundation.
According to the group's website, it seeks "to improve the human condition through investments in education, healthcare, human services and Jewish values."
Thomas W. Lawrence, III serves as president of The Leon Levine Foundation, and he released a statement praising the late businessman as "a beacon of light for our community."
"Not only was Leon Levine an entrepreneur and business leader, but he was a dedicated husband, father, friend and mentor to so many," Lawrence continued.
The nonprofit head added that the team Levine "created at The Leon Levine Foundation and L&L Management mourn his loss."
On Wednesday, April 5, we lost a beacon of light for our community.
Find remarks from The Leon Levine Foundation's President, Tom Lawrence, here:https://t.co/cFdnU5WSRx pic.twitter.com/fixeu6LefP
— The Leon Levine Fdn (@LeonLevineFdn) April 6, 2023
The Observer noted that Levine's foundation "has granted more than $450 million, with more than half the total awarded since 2008." The paper stressed that this figure does not include personal donations made by Levin and his wife.
Levine's life was also celebrated by youth sports podcaster Greg Olson, who tweeted, "The generosity of Leon Levine has been felt by thousands of families including our own."
The city of Charlotte is better off bc of Leon Levine and the entire Levine family. Our hearts are with the family as we all remember one of the giants in our region. The generosity of Leon Levine has been felt by thousands of families including our own ❤️ @LevineChildrens… https://t.co/LpYPk9cYXI
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) April 7, 2023