Spiros G. Ponty, a Greek immigrant who not only built thousands of homes in Los Angeles but led efforts to provide long-term mortgages so returning war veterans and others could afford to buy them, died Monday at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica.
He was 88.
A restaurateur as a young man who later became an assistant business manager to film producer-director Cecil B. De Mille, Ponty began in the housing business as a real estate salesman.
From 1929 until his eyesight began to fail in 1963, he built homes in Westwood, Norwalk, Beverly Hills, South-Central Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
They ranged from the economical to the elegant, and his 147 Spanish Colonial Revival homes in the Carthay Circle area of West Los Angeles--each one unique--are historical landmarks.
During World War II, he built Army barracks and other military projects. Afterward he spent several months designing small, affordable homes for returning soldiers with growing families.
What he came up with and built in the Valley and in Norwalk was a 750-square-foot, two-bedroom home with a fenced yard that sold for $6,950--$48 down and $42 a month.
In the late 1940s, he and film magnate Charles Skouras were among the major fund-raisers for building St. Sophia Cathedral. He was elected president of the foundation that guided that Greek Orthodox church when it opened in 1952 and two years later was honored as the most valuable Greek Orthodox layman in 11 Western states.
He and his wife, Tina, were original founders of the Music Center, those who contributed to its building fund.
A former president of the Home Builders Institute, he long served the National Conference of Christians and Jews and in 1950 was named Man of the Year during Brotherhood Week.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Katherine, 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.