Ira A. Lipman, longtime Memphian and founder of Guardsmark, an international private security firm, died Monday in New York City, where he had lived for some time. Lipman was also a board member of Contemporary Media, Inc., the parent company of the Memphis Flyer, Memphis
magazine, and Memphis Parent.
Chip Pankey/Memphis Magazine
Ira A. Lipman
Lipman, 78, had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
Lipman grew up in Little Rock and founded Guardsmark in 1963. He sold the company in 2015 to Universal Protection Service. Guardsmark's headquarters were in Downtown Memphis for many years, and it employed 2,000 local residents at one time. The company had 17,000 employees in four countries when it was sold.
While in school in Little Rock as a teenager, Lipman was a source for NBC reporter John Chancellor while he was covering the unrest surrounding integration there in the 1960s.
Thereafter, Lipman was known for his love of the free press and supported it throughout his life. In 1995, he established the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism at Columbia University.
Lipman was also a lifelong activist in service to human rights, including terms as chairman of the National Conference of Christian and Jews and the United Way of America’s ethics committee. He was also on the Council on Foreign Relations and a board member of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and New-York Historical Society.
His wife, Barbara — for whom the University of Memphis Barbara K. Lipman Early Learning and Research Center is named — survives him, along with his sons Gustave, Joshua, and Benjamin Lipman.