Sam N. Len, a businessman, developer, philanthropist and for years a leading figure in the Sacramento area's Jewish community, died Thursday, five days shy of his 88th birthday, at his Carmichael home with family at his side.
A third-generation builder, Mr. Len died after a short illness.
Born in Kingston, N.Y., Mr. Len moved to Los Angeles after serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II. In postwar Los Angeles, Mr. Len launched a decades-long career in residential, commercial and industrial real estate development that eventually included sites in New York, greater Los Angeles, northern Nevada and the Sacramento area.
Mr. Len and son Mark Len moved the family and firms, City Developers Co., and IRC and Associates, from Los Angeles to Sacramento in the 1980s.
"He thought it was important for the family, to bring up the family in the Sacramento area," Mark Len said. "He also had the foresight of business opportunities. He wanted to be a part of the growth of Sacramento."
His sons and grandsons would join the family business.
"It's a blessing to have your father as your business partner," Mark Len said. "We worked shoulder to shoulder and the end result has been success."
A skilled and successful businessman, Mr. Len was guided by family, faith and a sense of giving to his community, Mark Len said.
"He was an example to the entire family of how to care for your spouse and loved ones and how to care for your friends and employees," Mark Len said. "When your life is your community, you find ways to give back to your community. He had a love of the community of Sacramento. He would go out of his way to give back."
Mr. Len served on many Jewish organization boards, including Congregation B'nai Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom, Mosaic Law Congregation, Einstein Center and the Sacramento Jewish Federation.
He also helped lead the effort to build Hillel House at the University of California, Davis, a gathering place for Jewish students that is scheduled to open in May.
Bringing the UC Davis Hillel House to fruition was a passion of his in later years, said Michael Alcalay, friend and Sacramento-area businessman. "Hillel House was his baby. Twenty years were spent trying to get that built," Alcalay said. "He had a passion for kids and was proud of his Jewish culture."
Mr. Len was also instrumental in building a Hillel House at the University of Southern California in the 1950s, family and friends said.
"He's going to be missed by the community, but he's certainly going to be missed by his family," Mark Len said. "There's a void."