With heavy hearts and sadness, we share with you that Leon Zanger, one of the founders of the storied American stone and tile design resource, Walker Zanger, has died at the age of 93 due to complications of COVID-19.
Born in Belgium, Zanger and his family fled Europe during the 1940 German invasions and immigrated to the U.S. when he was 12 years old. Before the family arrived in the U.S., they settled in Portugal for a few years, where Zanger watched in awe as workers paved the streets with marble. This first experience with this extraordinary material—which Zanger had only seen used at museums and palaces of Belgium—never left his mind. It would lead to the Walker Zanger brand’s inspired beginnings.
Zanger revolutionized the use of the material within North America. He started Walker Zanger in 1953 with partner Marvin Walker, importing marble from Portugal and pioneered the use of the material for tabletops. In 1963, Zanger began importing stone tiles to the U.S., breaking open the stone tile market in residential settings. The company grew from there, expanding to find unique products so designers and homeowners can create their boldest visions and unconventional designs. This pursuit has led Walker Zanger worldwide to find the most unique, original, and thought-provoking tile and stone materials that open the door to exciting new design possibilities. Zanger was an integral role player in some of Walker Zanger’s most famous projects, including sourcing historically-accurate Italian stone for J. Paul Getty’s Villa in Malibu, California.
Leon Zanger’s son, Jonathan Zanger, and daughter, Claudia Springer, said: “He founded Walker Zanger almost 70 years ago, and although the great love of his life was our mother, Hanna, and his family, his second love was the company he built, the people he employed, and the friendships he made among clients and suppliers, around the world. He always told us that his proudest achievement was that the company that bears his name supported countless hundreds, and even thousands, of families, over the decades.”