Levine, billionaire founder of the Family Dollar chain of discount stores, well known his philanthropic deeds, donated $8 million towards the total $30 million cost of the project, situated in the Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina, his home town.
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Leon and Sandra Levine
/ By Yoel Bermant /
In front of a packed audience made up of students, faculty and community members, Leon Levine, accompanied by his wife Sandra, pronounced the Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation officially open in a recent ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The magnificent new facility stands three stories tall, covering a total area of close to 150, 000 square feet, on the southwestern corner of the Queens University campus, and is planned to be the principal hub on campus for all aspects of wellness and recreational activities the University, as well as serving as home to the university’s athletics programs.
Among its facilities, the Levine Center for Wellness and Recreationhouses a 20, 000-square-foot gym that will comfortably accommodate the university’s various sports teams. The gym has been custom designed utilizing an innovate system of movable walls and retractable bleachers that make it capable of accommodating areas of up to three gym floors which can open out to one massive area, should the occasion demand it. The gym area can be rapidly partitioned off to make up individual intramural activities, volleyball and basketball practice courts that can be used simultaneously and with the minimum of distraction.
In addition, the new center also houses a 5, 000-square-foot fully equipped fitness center, as well as studios for dance and group fitness, a two-lane indoor track, suitable for either walking or jogging To complete the picture, the Center also houses a 33-meter long swimming pool, stretch pool, sports performance center and sports medicine room for students as well as a comfortable and modern student lounge
Queens’ kinesiology department will also be situated in the Levine Center, including faculty offices, classrooms, and a fully equipped laboratory.
Leon Levine was effusive in his praise of the new facility, and when pronouncing the center open commented on the positive spirit already flowing through the building which makes everyone’s efforts to put the project together more than worthwhile.
Family Dollar chain of discount stores
Leon Levine was born in Rockingham, North Carolina where his father was the owner of the city’s general store. Even as a young boy Levine would go to help out at the store, displaying an aptitude for retailing at a very early age. Unfortunately, Levine’s father passed away very suddenly in 1949 when Leon was just twelve years old, leaving Levine’s older brother Sherman in charge of the store with the younger Levine handed the role of second in command. In 1951 Sherman Levine was drafted into the US Army to take a part in the Korean War, leaving Leon alone to run the busy store when just fifteen years old.
Thankfully Sherman returned home unscathed from Korea, and Leon stood down, having gained invaluable experience in all aspects of retailing as well as the realization that he had the desire and the ability to succeed in a venture of his own.
After a couple of years of trial and error, in 1959, when aged just 21 Levine founded his first Family Dollar store in Charlotte, North Dakota with the whole marketing concept being based around selling a wide variety of items that would cost no more than $2.00 each.
Thanks to Levine’s vision and undoubted entrepreneurial skills, the Family Dollar Stores, Inc. group went from strength to strength, now operating more than seven thousand retail outlets across the United States, with their stocks being traded on the New York Stock Exchange from 1979 onwards.
Leon Levine retired from his role as CEO in 2003, passing on control of the company that he founded to his son Howard R. Levine.
Even before retiring, Leonard and his wife Sandra have involved themselves in a variety of charitable and philanthropic causes within the state of North Carolina with the Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation being their most recent, but certainly not their last.