Harold LeMay

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Harold E. LeMay (September 4, 1919 – November 4, 2000) was the owner of Harold LeMay Enterprises, a refuse company in the Tacoma, Washington metro area.[1] He was the owner of one of the largest private automobile collections in the world at the time of his death.


Harold was born in Yakima, Washington in 1919. He became a partner in an automotive business just out of high school, and began his Spanaway Garbage Collection Company, which would become Harold LeMay Enterprises, just after World War II.[2] Harold also owned Lucky Towing, HELM Trucking, Lucky Sales & Services, and other companies.[3]

Harold LeMay amassed the largest privately owned collection of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, and all manner of other vehicles and related memorabilia in the world. At its peak, the LeMay Collection numbered in excess of 3,000 vehicles and thousands of "automobilia" artifacts.[3] The Collection, recognized by many as a national treasure, represents the American experience with the automobile as it spans the 20th century and features virtually every American make, as well as numerous foreign cars. Currently, the bulk of the LeMay Collection is still housed on LeMay property. Some of the vehicles are in the process of being donated to the LeMay Museum in order to be accessible to the public; others are still owned by the LeMay Family and are on display at the LeMay Family Collection at Marymount.

The LeMay Collection was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997 as the largest privately owned car collection in the world.

Each summer until his death in 2000, Harold LeMay, his wife Nancy, and their family would open their estate for the annual LeMay Car Show. This tradition has continued each summer on the last Saturday in August when thousands of visitors have the opportunity to view this vast collection.[1]


Harold didn't want his collection broken up and sold off after his death, as happens to many car collections.[4] In 1996, he began talking about opening a non-profit museum that would allow the public to see his collection and keep it all together. He died before this dream could be realized, but his family remembered, and the LeMay -America's Car Museum and, later, The LeMay Family Collection were born.

Hundreds of Harold LeMay's cars are displayed at The LeMay Family Collection Foundation at Marymount, which opened c 1991 in Tacoma, WA on the site of a former military academy-style school for boys, which had been founded by Dominican nuns in the early 1900s. This historic 80 acre site is just as appealing as the vast car and memorabilia exhibit. Hundreds of Harold LeMay's cars are also displayed at "The LeMay -America's Car Museum" in Tacoma, Washington which opened in June 2012, immediately west of the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA.

Harold's wife, Nancy, and son, Doug, are both active members of the Tacoma community. They also share his passion for car collecting, and have continued it after his death.[5]


Harold LeMay was elected to the National Solid Waste Association Hall of Fame in 1991.[6]

On May 28, 2011, Harold and Nancy LeMay were inducted into the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame.[7] Harold's son, Doug LeMay, accepted the award on Harold's behalf.


  1. ^ a b "Harold LeMay dies; collected 2,400 vintage cars", The Seattle Times, 6 November 2000, retrieved 13 June 2013
  2. ^ A short biography of Harold LeMay Archived 2014-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b LeMay Family Collection FAQs Archived 2014-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ The road to opening America's Car Museum
  5. ^ Nancy LeMay Donates $700,000 to America's Car Museum
  6. ^ "EIA Hall of Fame Inductee Archive (by Name)". Environmentalistseveryday.org. Archived from the original on 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  7. ^ Induction ceremony into the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame on YouTube