S. Mark Taper
Born in Poland in 1901 and raised in London, S. Mark Taper immigrated to California in 1939. In his early years in Britain, the precocious Taper had pursued a number of careers: a grade school teacher at age 13 when older teachers left to fight in World War I, manager at age 16 of his father’s factory which manufactured uniforms, a shoe store owner at age 19; and eventually, the owner of a chain of five shoe stores at age 25. After his first “retirement,” he launched a successful career selling and later developing housing in Britain. He had intended to retire again when he came to Los Angeles, but Taper was tempted by the opportunities for home construction. Taper’s Biltmore Homes built 35,000 houses in Norwalk, Long Beach, Compton, and Seal Beach before joining Ben Weingart and Louis Boyar in building Lakewood.