Elias Karmon, known as “Mr. Bronx” for his long dedication to the borough, was a businessman, civic leader, civil rights advocate and philanthropist, Karmon was one of the borough’s biggest boosters through its darkest days and its renaissance.
For 40 years he was the proprietor of Hollywood Clothes at Prospect Ave. and 163rd St., and then began buying buildings, getting involved in important civic causes, doing good deeds. Karmon belonged to the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of the original Bronx Chamber of Commerce for four years, and also held the positions of treasurer, second vice-president and first vice-president. He was named chairman emiretus of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce which he almost, single-handedly, restarted in 2001.
Mr. Bronx helped rebuild the parts of the Bronx impacted by abandonment as one of the founders of Ponce de Leon Federal Bank, one of the few organizations that provided financial services to many residents there in the 1970s and 80s. He was also a board member of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the Bronx House, South Bronx Mental Health Council, the Bronx Dance Theater, Bronx Community College Foundation, Beth Abraham Hospital Foundation, Bronx Jewish Community Council, Bronx Special Olympics, Bronx Boys and Girls Club and Bronx Y.M.C.A. Karmon’s generous donation greatly aided the Bronx YMCA’s efforts to build its current modern facility and indoor pool on Castle Hill Avenue. The pool also carries Elias’ name.
He also served as president of the Pelham Parkway Jewish Center, and chairman and founding member of the borough’s branch of the Urban League. The borough colleges of CUNY also award an annual scholarship in his honor.
Mr. Karmon died at the age of 98 in 2008. The intersection of Thwaites Place and Barker Avenue, near where he lived in Pelham Parkway, is now known as “Elias Karmon Way”. There is also a housing complex in the Bronx named for him as well.