A Responsibility to New Haven
Then, Now and Forever
|Photo of Burton and Diane Levey courtesy of Patricia Levey Lebow
Cold winter nights were unsettling for the late Burton Levey, founder of Levey, Miller, Maretz real estate brokerage firm. Winter storms prompted him to leave his warm Woodbridge home and head to downtown New Haven to distribute heaters to people without heat.
Burton’s daughter, Patricia Levey Lebow, says helping people was just part of her dad’s DNA. “If he had food on his plate, he had to make sure other people had food on their plate too,” adds Burton’s wife, Diane. “He always wanted to see what he could do for other people.”
Burton’s son, John, describes him as funny, creative, well-read and quite the songbird. Diane remembers Burton entering their office building always singing an upbeat, happy song. Patricia says now her father’s song continues through the Diane and Burton Levey Family Fund’s grantmaking.
“I think he was a man that just learned at an early age from his parents, from his family, as a result of his father passing when he was only 12-years-old that he needed to take care of himself, and he needed to take care of others who needed help,” says Patricia, a fifth generation descendant of New Haveners on multiple sides of her family as her great-great-grandfather Wolf Alderman immigrated to New Haven from Russia in approximately 1880 and her maternal great-grandfather Harris Goldman came from Poland to New Haven at the same time.
Burton Levey was born in New Haven in 1917 to the late Philip and Anna Levey. He left Connecticut to attend the University of Alabama on a baseball scholarship and received both his undergraduate and law degree there. After graduation, he returned home to work at his cousin’s law firm, where he met his future wife Diane, the firm’s legal secretary. Soon after, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he served as a captain in the 356th Fighter Group based in England. After the war, he returned home and began publishing comic books and magazines. Burton remained in publishing for about 20 years until a craving for a new challenge inspired him to establish Levey Miller Maretz. Diane joined her husband in the business - she handling the residential side, he handling the commercial side.
“They were true partners in their marriage and in business,” says daughter Patricia. “I think that is a really nice part of the love story between the two of them that starts in the practice of law back in the 40s and then continues in the practice of real estate in the same community in the 60s."
While building his career, Burton was very active in the community. He served as President of the Woodbridge Country Club, President of the New Haven Jewish Home for the Aged and on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven. He was also a member of the New Haven Board of Realtors, the Connecticut Bar Association and the Quinnipiack Club as well as an active supporter of Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven throughout his life. In addition to his strong support of the Jewish community, he was committed to supporting community charities serving those in need as he was a man who did not see color, religion, age or economic status when he saw people. In fact his daughter laughs and says he was actually “color blind.”
In 2016, the Diane and Burton Levey Family Fund was established by Patricia and John at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to continue, in perpetuity, the support their parents gave to the community for so many years. “We felt that we wanted to have a permanent fund established in memory of our father and in honor of our mother,” Patricia says.
Though Diane, Patricia and John no longer live in the area, she says her family “will always carry New Haven, Orange and Woodbridge in our hearts.”