Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter (ABC SEPA) announced that J. Leon Altemose, a pioneer for the Merit construction philosophy died on April 11 at his home in Malvern, Pa., due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis.
Altemose was well known in the construction industry for his passion for “right to work” construction. The physical attacks made on him and his business by the local building trade unions in the 1970s and 1980s garnered local and national media attention for Merit construction and his resulting legal battles led to a landmark labor rights law.
“Leon believed strongly in the Merit shop philosophy and would not back down when attacked by the unions,” said Geoffrey Zeh, president and CEO of ABC SEPA. “He is an icon in our industry and will always be remembered for the challenges he faced, the determination he had and the advancements he made for the entire construction industry.”
Altemose, his wife, Carol Clemson and cousin Roger Altemose founded The Altemose Construction Co., which built many notable Philadelphia area projects from churches, homes, office and hospitality centers to manufacturing facilities, including the Valley Forge Convention Center, Radission Hotel Valley Forge and Valley Forge Towers Condominiums and Apartments. A graduate of Norristown High School in 1957, he attended Penn State University and also served in the United States Army Reserves.
He received many recognitions and awards over his career including ABC’s “Leader of the Century” award in 2000. Altemose also won the United States Citizens Congress Award in 1976 and the Montgomery County Humanitarian Award for Mentally Challenged Citizens in 1986, to name a few. Additionally, author Samuel Cook dedicated an entire chapter of his “Freedom in the Workplace” book to Altemose.
Altemose is survived by his wife, Carol; daughter, Lynn Jarrett; son, Lance; a sister and two grandchildren.
Memorial services were held April 19 at the Cornerstone Church in Skippack, Pa.