Michael Leep, Sr. was born in Hammond, Ind., on Sept. 11, 1943. He grew up in Highland, Ind., attending Highland public schools and Ball State University. After leaving college in his sophomore year, Mr. Leep became involved in various entrepreneurial enterprises in the food service industry.
In 1967 he entered the automobile industry as a salesman for McAnary Ford in Gary, Ind. In 1973, Leep and his business partner, Van Gurley, had the opportunity to purchase their first automobile dealership, a Dodge franchise in Highland, Ind. The two then purchased a Buick dealership in South Bend, Ind., in 1977. Since that time, the Gurley-Leep Automotive Group has grown from one dealership to twenty, representing twenty-seven different franchises throughout Michiana and Northwest Indiana, Lansing, Mich., and Davenport, Iowa, employing more than 1,200 people. As an Indiana automotive dealer, Leep is past president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana.
Leep has been involved with many charitable organizations in the Michiana area, some of which are the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Center for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice of St. Joseph County, Hannah's House, Logan Center, Mental Health Association of St. Joseph County, St. Joseph Care Foundation, United Way, Women's Care Center, YWCA of St. Joseph County and Youth Service Bureau.
He currently sits on the boards of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and Northern Indiana Center for History as a trustee and the St. Joseph Capital Bank as a director. As president of the board for the philanthropic arm of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, he is responsible for raising the funds that enhance the community outreach programs, and as president of the board at the Women's Care Center Foundation, he is helping build a permanent endowment, which will provide annual support and security to neighborhood crisis pregnancy centers it operates.
Among Michael's outstanding recognitions and awards, which he insists really belong to his employees, are the Lee Slaughter Award, given by Logan Center to the person who best exemplifies a true friend of Logan; the Distinguished American Award, given by the local chapter of the College Football Hall of Fame to the person they feel contributed most to the community; the Corporate Philanthropist Award, given by the Michiana Chapter National Society of Fundraising Executives to the corporation that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support and community involvement; 2002 TIME Magazine Quality Dealer Award, given to outstanding new car dealers for exceptional performance in dealerships and distinguished community service; Monogram Club of Notre Dame, an honorary membership given in June 2002 for commitment to the university and its endeavors to the community; the Vision Award for Business, given by Healthy Communities Initiative for providing time and services for the betterment of the community-at-large rather than just for profit and/or personal gratification; the 2003 Helping Hands Award, given by the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Joseph County for commitment to the community and those in need; the 2003 Herman Goodin Civic Service Award, presented by the Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana, Inc., in recognition of outstanding, untiring and unselfish efforts in the civic affairs of the community, state and nation.
Michael Leep, Sr. and his wife of 41 years, Karen, are the parents of three children, James, Michael Jr. and Kristen. They are also the grandparents of Dylan Michael.