Atlanta businessman and philanthropist Charles Loudermilk died at age 95 following complications from a stroke, according to his family.
Loudermilk is perhaps best known as the founder of furniture and appliance rental store Aaron’s, which he opened in 1955.
According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aaron’s was started with $500 and grew it to a company that produces $2 billion in revenue each year.
As his business grew, so did Loudermilk’s contributions to charity. He donated more than $35 million to various organizations and institutions, including the Atlanta Food Bank, Covenant House, and the University of North Carolina.
He would later serve as chairman of the MARTA board of directors and while a conservative Republican, he crossed the aisle to aid and befriend Democratic candidates, most notably Andrew Young in his bids for mayor and congress.
After Loudermilk retired as Aaron’s chairman in 2012 and his family sold off their stock, they opened the Loudermilk Companies, which remains active in real estate development.
Mayor Andre Dickens released a statement this evening following the announcement of Loudermilk’s death.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Charles “Charlie” Loudermilk Sr. Throughout his life, he remained devoted to ensuring Atlanta is a prosperous, unified and forward-thinking community. From his philanthropic efforts to his work integrating marginalized Atlanta businesses into the larger business community, his accomplishments were many and his actions matched his mantra of “work hard, dream big.” My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
The Atlanta City Council said in a collective statement: “Charles ‘Charlie’ Loudermilk Sr. loved the city of Atlanta and remained committed to building civic pride and uniting the community throughout his life. We are greatly saddened to hear of his passing and our thoughts are with his family. He always looked to the future of our city and his life was a shining example of philanthropy and hard work. He will forever be remembered as a pillar of the community.”