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JEFFERSON PARK : Barber Leon Aubry Dies; Activist Was 77

January 09, 1994

Leon Aubry, longtime community activist and barbershop proprietor once known as "the mayor of Jefferson Boulevard," died Monday of complications following heart and stomach cancer surgery. He was 77.

Aubry, a New Orleans native who moved to Los Angeles in 1951, was active in many community-based groups and social organizations, including Catholics United for Racial Equality, Kiwanis, the League for Community Improvement, Autocrats West, Jefferson Council and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

He also aided political campaigns and spearheaded many fund-raisers, including an annual Jefferson Council gala to benefit the school at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Hyde Park. The event raised almost $12,000 last spring.

A lifetime entrepreneur, Aubry operated several small businesses in New Orleans, including the city's first black-owned bowling alley, before heading west. He ran Aubry's Barber Shop on Jefferson Boulevard for 37 years until the building was torn down in 1988.

Undaunted, he moved his operation to the garage of his home on 12th Avenue, where his many friends, family members and New Orleans cronies continued to gather for haircuts and the lively talk that had become legendary in the surrounding Crenshaw and Leimert Park neighborhoods.

The regulars at Aubry's shop hailed from a wide range of professions and walks of life, from stellar entertainer Nat King Cole to local politician and former Mayor Tom Bradley to scores of doctors, social activists and just plain folk.

"Not only did the Aubry family suffer a a great loss, the whole community lost a great leader," Bradley said. "His barbershop was a listening post, an action center for a lot of things. When you went there, you knew exactly where you stood."

Aubry is survived by his wife, Esmeralda; a son, Leon Jr.; a daughter, Saundra; three brothers, Edris, Thomas and Larry; and many nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

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