Leo M. Harvey (1887-1973) was a pioneer industrialist and inventor and an ardent friend and supporter of the State of Israel, particularly of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Harvey served as a member of the Technion International Board of Governors and leader of the Southern California Chapter of the American Technion Society (ATS).
Born in Lithuania in 1887, Leo Harvey was the son of a small factory owner in the Vilna ghetto. Threatened with imprisonment because of his political activism, Harvey fled Czarist Russia in 1905, and arrived in Berlin, where he got a job as a toolmaker in a large company. Two years later Harvey immigrated to the US, attended the Cooper Union School, and found employment in 1910 with the Hot Point Electric Company in Ontario, California. While in California, Leo married Lena Brody in 1911 and the couple had three children. Possessed of unusual talent and ambition, Leo Harvey was destined to be his own boss. In 1914 he hired two men and set up shop in downtown Los Angeles. Thus began the Harvey Machine Company. By 1920 the company had more than 300 employees.
During the next two decades Harvey’s inventive powers came to the fore. Leo Harvey took out numerous patents in specialized machinery and equipment. His clients included large industries, such as Bendix Company, which obtained his automatic pilot light device. Harvey sold his own deep valve pumping unit to a firm that later became incorporated into the Republic Steel Company. The United States Steel Company bought another of his inventions, a wiring machine. During the Great Depression, when almost all industrial firms cut back or closed, Harvey Machine worked at full capacity. After World War II, the company acquired a large aluminum plant in Torrance, California. Expanded ten times, the facility was the nucleus of Harvey Aluminum Company, which had plants throughout the US, and in the Virgin Islands, Europe and Africa. The company’s labs developed new metal alloys, some of which were utilized by the space industry. Throughout his life, Leo Harvey was devoted to human progress and the establishment of good will between Israel and other nations. His commitment continues – in perpetuity – through the Harvey Prize, which is awarded annually to prominent scientists and scholars from around the world. This family tradition of support is carried on by Leo Harvey’s family, his sons, Homer Harvey and Lawrence Harvey (deceased), and daughter Carmen Warschaw, also devoted friends of Israel and the Technion. Given without regard to nationality, race, religion, or sex, the Harvey Prize celebrates outstanding efforts in the areas of science, technology, human health and peace.