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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

RATNER, LEONARD - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

RATNER, LEONARD (1896-30 Dec. 1974), businessman, Jewish community leader, and philanthropist, was born Leiser Ratowezn in Bialystok, Poland, son of Moses and Pauline (Isonsted) Ratner. He received a Jewish education and entered the weaving trade. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1920 and settled in Cleveland in 1921, first working as a weaver, but soon quitting to open first one, then a second creamery with his sister Dora and brother Max (see MAX RATNER†). They sold the creameries in 1926 to concentrate on the lumber and building business. Chas. Ratner, another brother, had established Forest City Lumberyard in 1922 and in 1924 helped Leonard open Buckeye Lumber. In 1929, Leonard turned the lumberyard over to his brother Max and established the B. & F. Bldg. Co. He specialized in constructing 3-bedroom homes, erecting houses primarily in EAST CLEVELAND, EUCLID, and along Lake Shore Blvd. In 1934, Leonard joined Forest City Lumber (see FOREST CITY ENTERPRISES, INC.).

Leonard was active in Jewish communal affairs. In 1931, he began volunteer work with the Jewish Welfare Fed., serving as treasurer and vice-president during the 1960s, and elected honorary life trustee in 1966. In 1961, he was elected honorary trustee for life of MT. SINAI Hospital after serving on the board of trustees for 2 decades. The Ratner family helped build PARK SYNAGOGUE in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS; Leonard was its president from 1952-55. Ratner also served a number of national Jewish organizations. In 1924 he married Lillian Bernstein, founder of the Lillian Ratner Montessori School at Park Synagogue. They had 2 children, Albert and Ruth. Ratner died in Florida and was buried in Park Synagogue Cemetery.

title. Finding aid for the Ratner Family Papers.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2012 05:42:43 PM

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