HARBISON, Leslie Craig

Mr. Harbison, president of Household Finance Corporation, was born in Batavia, Iowa, December 14, 1878. Son of Samuel Morrison and Cordelia (Quig) Harbison. He received his education in the public schools of Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His first position was that of an outside representative of Frank J. Mackey, Philadelphia, in 1897. Later he was transferred to their Cleveland (Ohio) office, where he remained from 1900 to 1905; as manager of the Washinton (D.C.) office from 1905 to 1908; and was in the middle-western branch offices in Chicago from 1908 to 1917. In 1918 the organization upon which Household Finance Corporation was subsequently built came into being and in 1925 it assumed its present corporate form. In that year Mr. Harbison was appointed president, and under his leadership Household Finance Corporation has become the largest organization of its kind in America, with 148 branch offices in ninety-one cities of twelve states.

Mr. Harbison is a member of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. His clubs are Chicago Athletic Association, Medinah Athletic, Bob o’Link, and Westmoreland Country. His favorite recreations are golf, hunting, and fishing.

He married Maude E. Bower, of Boston, Massachusetts, December 31, 1900. Their children are Gladys Irene (Mrs. John H. Lawson), David Samuel, Leslie Craig, Dorothy Maude, and Elizabeth Helene.

The hectic events and crises in these difficult years had gradually taken their toll of Leslie Harbison. He gave the appearance of being a robust and relaxed man, but actually he was not. He approached every problem with great intensity and he insisted on being kept informed of the most minute details, despite the growing multiplicity of company activities. He worked hard at everything he did, often staying long past the usual closing hours and always taking home a full portfolio. On the afternoon of December 22, 1933, he visited briefly in several offices in Chicago, then went back to his own office. He never emerged. The next morning his secretary, Mildred G. Seymour, found him on his couch. He had died of a heart attack while preparing to leave, for he was wearing his overcoat and on the desk nearby were his hat, gloves, and the inevitable portfolio. In its obituary, Personal Finance News called him “the father of the personal finance business” and offered apt assessment: “It was Mr. Harbison’s constant opinion that the personal finance business had much wider opportunities for service than had been realized. He devoted much time and unlimited energy to securing enactment of the small loan law in Illinois, notwithstanding the opposition of many of the leading small loan operators at the time. The position which he took then has now come to be accepted by the entire business, a fact which stands in tribute to his foresight.”


¬†Contributed May 2000 by Cristy Thompson [Leslie Craig Harbison’s daughter Dorothy Harbison married Mr. William H. Hall 08 Oct 1938.]

Source: Lending is Our Business

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