Harold LeMay: Car Collector and Community Anchor Extraordinaire

  • Collector. Harold LeMay rose from humble beginnings to create a business empire that spanned the South Sound (Photos Courtesy LeMay Car Museum)

Harold LeMay liked cars, a lot.

After decades of collecting cars from auto auctions, private collections and random purchases from garages while he was driving around, LeMay had gathered the largest privately owned collection of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, other vehicles and related memorabilia in the world. He had more than 3,000 cars at one point. No one seems to know the exact number because cars were coming in all the time.

The collection was so large that Harold and his wife, Nancy, purchased a former military academy and retirement home for Sisters of Saint Dominic nuns in the late 1980s to house the cars. The LeMay Family Collection at Marymount was born as a way to preserve, protect and interpret the valuable collection that includes several one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Harold passed away in 2000, after not only collecting cars for more than half a century, but also by creating a business empire that include Harold E. LeMay Enterprises, Inc., the umbrella name for a host of solid waste and recyclables collection companies in Pierce, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Mason counties. Other businesses included Lucky Towing, Lucky Sales and Service, LeMay Restoration, AA Lucky Storage, Parkland Auto Wrecking, HELM Manufacturing and numerous land holdings and rental properties. He was 81 when he passed away.

The refuse businesses he built were sold in 2008 to Waste Management, but the name “Harold E. LeMay Enterprises, Inc.” was part of the sale package, preserving his name and legacy in the communities he served for so many years. The Harold E. LeMay Skateboard Park in Spanaway was also named for him.

The Spanaway facility housing the family collection of cars will remain in operation as a museum after America’s Car Museum opens. The complex houses some 1,500 cars, and it continues to grow.

The LeMay Family Collection at Marymount Event Center and the LeMay: America’s Car Museum will operate as separate entities, although they will partner on exhibits and events. Nancy and her son Doug also serve on the ACM board.

More information about that facility is available at www.lemaymarymount.org.


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