Greg Varon — who started a carpet business in his Burbank garage while in high school and later became a prominent local real estate developer — died March 23 in a Los Angeles hospital after a long battle with diabetes. He was 55.
He had possessed an entrepreneurial spirit since his high school days, said his brother Bruce Varon, who owns a chiropractic business in Burbank.
After he became injured and couldn’t compete in sports at Burbank High School any longer, Greg Varon created the Letterman’s Club to raise funds for the school’s sports programs and started selling hot dogs and sodas at sports events. The funds provided sports equipment for less fortunate students on the teams.
“He had that philosophy that when you are given lemons, you make lemonade,” Bruce Varon said.
When he graduated in 1975, he left $5,000 in the Letterman’s Club account, his brother said.
He started selling carpet out of his garage during high school and, at 17, he purchased his first investment — a duplex in North Hollywood, Bruce Varon said. Gregg’s Carpet Sales moved twice before settling on Glenoaks Boulevard.
Greg Varon never got a degree in business, his brother said, but he made friends and was mentored by Burbank’s top people in real estate.
“His friendships crossed over lines from neighbors to entrepreneurs and developers in Burbank to national sports figures and team owners,” Bruce Varon said. “He was king of the engagers. He took an interest in everyone’s life, and he engaged them in conversation.”
His biggest interest was business and his hobbies were boating and fishing. He suffered from diabetes and had a kidney transplant, so he spent a lot of time in the hospital, but he never quit enjoying life, spending time with his family and looking for the next big deal, Bruce Varon said.
Probably his greatest attribute was that over the last 20 years of life he did not acknowledge he was disabled, said longtime friend Terre Hirsch.
“He never complained. Never made his problems your problems,” Hirsch said.
Greg Varon was remembered during a service on Sunday at Mount Sinai Memorial Park.
He was preceded in death by his father, Leo. He is survived by his wife, Menchi; three children Rachel, Brandon and Amy; his mother Bette; brother Bruce and sister Michele; and two grandchildren. Donations can be made in his honor to the American Diabetes Assn.