Leonard S. Shoen, 83, who revolutionized the do-it-yourself moving industry by founding U-Haul International Inc., apparently committed suicide here Oct. 4 by driving his car into a power pole.
The Clark County coroner's office ruled the next day that Mr. Shoen died of blunt force trauma and said the accident looked like a suicide. It is still under investigation.
Mr. Shoen founded U-Haul in 1945 and built it into the most recognized self-moving company in the nation with its signature orange and white trucks.
In 1986, his sons--Joe and Mark--forced their father into retirement and pushed for control of the parent company, Reno, Nev.-based Amerco Inc.
The move triggered a bitter family feud that ended in a $1.5 billion jury award the company had to pay Leonard Shoen and other "outsiders." A judge later reduced the award to $461 million, and the five directors later sought bankruptcy protection from the debt.
Since the shake-up at U-Haul, Mr. Shoen had lived in Las Vegas. He had owned the World Trade Center hotel there for three years. He withdrew his application with the Nevada Gaming Commission for a gaming license in May.
Mr. Shoen came up with the idea for a national system of one-way moving trailers at age 29, after serving in the Navy during World War II. He recognized the need for an inexpensive means of moving increasingly migratory American families.
With an initial investment of $5,000, he and his then-wife, Anna Mary Carty, started the company at the Carty Ranch in Ridgefield, Wash., where they built the first U-Haul trailers in a milk house in 1945. The company is now based in Phoenix.
The original U-Haul trailers were painted bright orange and rented for $2 a day. By 1949, it was possible to rent U-Haul trailers one way from city to city throughout most of the United States.
Today the company has 14,000 independent dealers and 1,100 company-owned moving centers. It is the leading company in the truck and trailer rental industry and the second-largest self-storage facility operator. U-Haul also is the world's largest installer of permanent hitches.