Harold Present

May 13, 1932 – Oct.15, 2023


Harold Present was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to Venice, California as a child with his mother, Millie. He attended Venice High School where he met his wife of 72 years, Regina, via a blind date orchestrated by his lifelong friend, Sanford.

After high school, Harold served in the National Guard and worked in a steel factory for 10 years. Harold and Regina sold their home in Venice in 1961 and moved their young family to the Crescenta Valley foothills where they purchased two tow trucks (from B+H Auto on Ramsdell Avenue) and opened their new business, Hal’s Tow.

Harold drove tow trucks day and night while Regina answered phones, dispatched, handled paperwork and raised their three children (Samuel, Susan and Jacqueline). Over the next 57 years, Harold was proud and eager to offer employment from Hal’s Tow to family and friends in need. 

As his business grew, Harold expanded and opened a gas station on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Ocean View Boulevard, The Flying A. He obtained an exclusive AAA towing contract in which he served the La Crescenta, La Cañada and North Glendale communities. As the years went by he built trust and respect within the community. His reputation as an industrious and kind man earned him contracts with the Glendale Police Dept., California Highway Patrol and Montrose Sheriff’s Dept. Harold also obtained exclusive contracts to serve the Angeles Crest and Angeles National Forest areas where in winter he would have to reduce and tow vehicles in snowy and icy conditions (not too easy for a man raised at the warm California beaches). 

Harold was a founding member of the California Tow Truck Association where he served as president and fought to improve the industry he loved so much. He started a program at Pasadena City College where students could train and refine their skills in every type of towing. 

Harold eventually slowed down and handed the reins of Crescenta Valley Tow (formerly Hal’s Tow) over to his two daughters but he never officially retired and would often pop by to see if everything was going well. 

Many have said Harold had a great business mind and would refer to him as a “human calculator.” His wit and intelligence could only be overshadowed by the warmth of his heart.

Stories are told of Harold’s generosity. If a customer couldn’t afford a tow or the repairs their vehicle required, he would trade or make deals of sorts so they could get the service they needed. One trade, in particular, led to his children getting a tree house built in their backyard.

A perfect encapsulation of Harold’s warmth comes in a story when, in the 1960s, late one night he rescued a young family stuck in the snow on Angeles Crest Highway. Their car wouldn’t start and they didn’t have food with them. With no businesses open, Harold invited them to his home where his wife, Regina, cooked them dinner and ensured they had dry clothes for the next morning.

Harold loved the La Crescenta community. He donated his time and funds to organizations like the local Boy Scout troop (Troop 316) and sponsored CSA baseball teams, sheriff baseball teams and fundraisers. Though he spent his later years in Playa Del Rey near his boyhood home of Venice, he always spoke of the countless close friends and acquaintances he and his family met in the Foothill area. In his final days, he would say his best days were “when we were in La Crescenta.”

Harold is survived by his wife of 72 years Regina; three children: Samuel, Susan and Jacqueline; four grandchildren: James, Sarah, Patrick and David; and one great-granddaughter: Adelina.

He is missed and he is loved.