Don Temple, Self-Storage Pioneer & Philanthropist, Dies at 85

Posted by MiniCo on Apr 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM

Don Temple, Self-Storage Pioneer & Philanthropist, Dies at 85

Don Temple, a veteran, successful businessman and longtime philanthropist, died of heart failure on Friday. He was 85.

His wife, Marlene Temple, said he was working at his office when he had a heart attack on Jan. 30, 2012. Temple was treated at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where he remained until his death.

“He is a self-made man,” his wife said. “He came from a very meager start, and he amassed his empire by being an ethical and hardworking man.”

The Temples donated to Rancho Los Alamitos and the Aquarium of the Pacific as well as many other local causes, Marlene Temple said.

Ryan Choura, a family friend said, “He is a consistent guy. No flash. He was just good. You don’t see too many guys who are that successful that lives that humbly and gives back without wanting recognition. “

Yet Temple had been given numerous accolades. In 2005 the Long Beach Youth Home Boosters recognized Don and Marlene Temple as “Sweethearts of the Year” for their generosity and commitment to the community. The California Conference for Equality and Justice honored the Temples on May 19, 2011, at its annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner.

Temple was a crucial pillar at the Community Hospital Long Beach, friends and family said. In 1997 Temple helped establish its Don and Ruth Temple Family Cancer Treatment Center in memory of his late wife who died from cancer. He served on the hospital’s board of directors for years.

Born on Aug. 19, 1927, in Morris, Kan., Temple became an entrepreneur when he was 14. He had joint ownership of his first business with his father. The younger Temple delivered ice blocks to locals and sold re-varnished oak iceboxes, making a $1,200 profit in his first summer.

He joined the U.S. Merchant Marines in 1945, and the military sent him to boot camp at Catalina Island. At the time, Temple had never seen the ocean before. Once he saw it, he was hooked.

“I wrote back home and said, ‘I didn’t go to war; I done died and went to heaven. I won’t be back,'” he once told the Long Beach Business Journal.

In addition to serving in the Marines for three years, he also spent two years in the Navy during the Korean War. Temple then moved to Long Beach, where he opened a service station, garage and towing business.

In 1968 Temple opened the first self-storage facility in Los Angeles County. As one of the first 50 pioneers of the self-storage business, Temple was inducted into the industry’s hall of fame. He made his fortune through his businesses: U-Store & Lock; real estate, including The Grand Event Center in Long Beach; and a shopping center in Long Beach.

Temple also had his pilot license, owning 32 planes in his lifetime. His love affair with planes began when, at 6 months old, he flew on his first plane.

“His main claim to fame is his trip around the world,” Marlene Temple said. “Twelve private planes went around the world and landed in Moscow. They were the first private planes to land in Moscow after the communist regime was overthrown. “

Temple didn’t graduate from college. As a result, he was always interested in helping young people take the first step toward a rewarding career, Marlene Temple told the Long Beach Business Journal. The two donated to the Long Beach City College Foundation and were part of the College Promise Program.

“He’s such a rare guy for how giving he was,” Choura said. “What great a businessman he was. Man, what a loss.”

In addition to his wife, Temple is survived by two daughters, a granddaughter and a great granddaughter.