Leo Lawrence Bourget, a former Santa Monica businessman and Pacific Palisades resident, passed away February 5 at the age of 87.
Leo was born in Santa Monica on August 10, 1925 to August and Celina Bourget. He grew up learning the values of family, faith and hard work. Starting at age seven he sold newspapers on the sidewalks of Santa Monica. His father would take his daily earnings to help support the family, and he would receive twenty-five cents as allowance every weekend to go to the movies and buy popcorn and candy.
Leo, who did not graduate from high school, enlisted in the Navy at age 17 to support the U.S. efforts in World War II.
At the end of the war his ship was stationed in Port Angeles, where he met his wife of 68 years, Marjorie Shamp, on a blind date. He went to work at Rayonier Mill and picked strawberries to support his family. Within five years—and four children later—Leo and Marge moved to Santa Monica, where he started a business with his brothers.
Although Leo had only a seventh-grade education, he helped build a multi-million-dollar company. Bourget Bros. Building Materials was established in 1947 after brothers Henry, Lawrence and Leo Bourget bought a concrete manufacturing plant and opened Bourget Concrete Products Co. with an initial investment of $300 for a resale permit, business license and rental on a small store.
The brothers foresaw a tremendous demand for concrete blocks in the post-war construction boom, and their business indeed thrived. In 1950, they stopped manufacturing masonry units and expanded their product line to include natural building stone, plumbing equipment, masonry and landscaping supplies, bricks, tools and hardware. This expansion resulted in a complete building materials supply establishment and prompted a new company name, Bourget Bros. Building Materials.
When Bourget Bros. bought an existing stone company in West L.A. (Coast Flagstone Co.), Leo was dispatched there to build up the business. Eventually that business, now thriving, was moved to Santa Monica and was renamed Bourget Flagstone Co.
At the age of 35, Leo decided that he needed his high school diploma, as he was demanding that all his children graduate from high school. He worked an average of 12 hours a day and went to school at night in order to graduate.
Leo was a rare individual who could relate to poor, sick, famous, blue- and white-collar, all races alike. It was often said of him, “He is my favorite!” He was warm, loving, sincere, funny, goofy, understanding, charismatic, passionate, vibrant, tough, wonderful, caring, eccentric, devoted, dynamic, and forgiving–the list is never-ending.
Leo loved his family deeply and was always there for them, to protect and support them. His loves were his wife Marge, family, God, fishing, golf, rummy cubes, stone cutting and laying stone, cards, horseshoes, his country and, of course, Chardonnay.
While living in Pacific Palisades, Leo and Marge were actively involved with the Lutheran Church. They retired to Port Angeles in the late 1990s, where Leo continued to touch the hearts of everyone who met him.
Leo was preceded in passing by his son, Vaughn, and by his daughter, Lorraine. He will be waiting for his wife, Marjorie; daughters Sharon and Annette; sons Dennis, Larry and Jim; daughters-in-law Diane, Belen and Theresa; brothers Leonard and John; 16 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held this Sunday, February 24 from 12 to 2 p.m. at Bourget Flagstone Co., 1810 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent to Port Angeles Food Bank, P.O. Box 1885, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
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