Leon J. Koerner and his brothers arrived in Vancouver in 1938 after fleeing Czechoslovakia, and established the Alaska Pine Company Ltd. The company was tremendously successful and their prosperity inspired Dr. Koerner and his wife to establish The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation in 1955. Their enduring wish was to promote post-secondary education, the cultural arts, and social welfare in British Columbia and the foundation continues to support those ideals today.
Dr. and Mrs. Koerner were also involved with capital funding of the University of British Columbia. They generously donated to the construction of the Faculty Club (Leon and Thea Koerner University Centre) and following the death of Mrs. Koerner, Dr. Koerner provided the funding for the development of the Thea Koerner House Graduate Student Centre as a memorial to his wife. Leon J. Koerner was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1983.