Walter Leimert Jr., 82; Southland Developer
Walter H. “Tim” Leimert Jr., scion of the real estate family whose developments include Leimert Park in Los Angeles, has died. He was 82.
Leimert died Jan. 21 at his Los Angeles home of natural causes, his company announced. The Walter H. Leimert Co. now will be headed by his son, Walter H. Leimert III.
Tim Leimert was born in Oakland, where his grandfather, Louis, began building commercial buildings in the late 1880s and where his father founded the Walter H. Leimert Co. in 1902.
The boy was 4 when his father relocated to Los Angeles, and he joined the family business after World War II, serving as president from 1960 until his death.
Initially with his father, who died in 1970, and then on his own, Leimert developed Beverlywood near Beverly Hills, Beverly Highlands in the Hollywood Hills, Saint Hubert Wood and Sierra Park in Orange County, and Cambria Pines near Hearst Castle.
The family has been recognized by the California Historical Society for its century of developing major communities around the state.
In Los Angeles, however, Leimert’s family name has come to symbolize the one-acre Leimert Park, which was created and given to the city by his father, and the 600-acre mixed-use development with the same name.
Tim Leimert was often the company’s spokesman at events in Leimert Park, at Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, which in the 1970s became the prime location for Los Angeles African American jazz, art and cultural celebrations. Leimert, who helped develop the nearby Leimert Park Village commercial area, spoke at the city park’s rededication in 2000.
Leimert’s father, Walter Sr., created the Leimert Park development with shops and homes in 1927. Roughly bounded by Exposition Boulevard on the north, Vernon on the south, Arlington Avenue on the east and Crenshaw on the west, the project was centered on the ranch Leimert bought from the daughter of land baron “Lucky” Baldwin. Leimert also developed the Baldwin Hills planned community nearby.
As part of the Leimert Park development, laid out by Olmstead & Olmstead, successor to the firm that developed New York’s Central Park, Leimert set aside one acre as Leimert Plaza. In 1928, he donated that area to the city of Los Angeles, which made it into Leimert Plaza Park, today known as Leimert Park. The housing development, with gracefully curving streets, includes several homes designed by such architects as Roland Coate, Richard J. Neutra and Sumner Spaulding.
Tim Leimert, who served as president of the Los Angeles Realty Board in 1961, later became interested in planned coastal development and worked with developer Fred Marlow in the 1970s to develop Oxnard Shores. He also bought a ranch in Cambria and began developing Cambria Pines.
A graduate of UCLA, Leimert worked with Edward R. Murrow’s CBS News team as a radio correspondent during World War II, covering action in the Pacific. He was aboard a B-29 Flying Fortress in bombing raids on Tokyo in 1944, and made the first airborne on-scene report of Hiroshima after the atom bomb was dropped on the city.
For 38 years, Leimert was the in-stadium announcer for UCLA Bruins football games.
He served on the board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, was a trustee of Whittier Law School and was active in the Pacific Legal Foundation.
Leimert is survived by his wife, Judith Hane Leimert; two sons, Walter III and Norman; two stepsons; three grandsons; and seven stepgrandchildren.
Services will be private. The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., or to the Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento.