Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. can't recall giving much serious thought to living anywhere but Maryland, which is good news given his family's lasting impact on the Baltimore region. He was born into wealth — he's a direct descendent of the Blaustein family, the Linthuanian immigrants who founded the American Oil Company (Amoco), and his father was president of Crown Central Petroleum Corp. until his death in 1955 — but it's his philanthropy and good works that stand out above all else.
Like his father, Mr. Rosenberg eventually ran Crown, serving as chairman, president and CEO. The company was at one time regarded as the Mid-Atlantic's most successful independent oil company, operating hundreds of gas stations and convenience stores (the relatively few that still bear the Crown name are actually owned by others). Today, he and his family are little involved in the petroleum business, but their charitable efforts go on. At age 87, Mr. Rosenberg continues to work tirelessly for his favorite causes, from McDonogh School in Owings Mills (he's a 1948 graduate and serves on its board of trustees) and the Boy Scouts of America to the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Health System as well as the Pride of Baltimore II.
"It's been a labor of love," says Mr. Rosenberg. "I just felt there was a need in some cases, and I loved all the organizations I've become involved with."
The feelings appear to be mutual. McDonogh Headmaster Charles W. Britton says Mr. Rosenberg has become a father figure to him, supportive, kind and generous. He marvels at the man's drive and energy but also his zest for life. "He's a role model," says Mr. Britton. "He refuses to retire and sees his life as a continuous activity for good."
The two foundations Mr. Rosenberg is associated with, The Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation and The Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg Foundation, have provided more than $59 million to support youth development, arts and culture, health and education since their inception, according to Betsy F. Ringel, executive director of the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, which helps oversee them. And that's not including the charitable donations Mr. Rosenberg and his wife, Dorothy, make on their own.
But it isn't money alone that has had a last impact on Baltimore. Ronald R. Peterson, president of the Johns Hopkins Health System, says Mr. Rosenberg's long involvement with Johns Hopkins (where he still serves as an emeritus trustee on the board of Johns Hopkins Medicine) has produced a great deal of community outreach, helping unite the $8 billion health organization with community organizations and causes such as workforce development providing local residents with the coaching and training to hold well-paying health care jobs.
"He has encouraged us to remember that in addition to being excellent at what we do as a health care organization that we also have a commitment to the community," Mr. Peterson notes. "He impressed on us that we were of the community and that, well beyond the academic mission, we had a responsibility to make sure we were doing everything possible to support the greater community."
There are few people more bullish on Maryland's future. Even when Crown was being buffeted by the winds of economic change two decades ago, Mr. Rosenberg insists he never seriously thought about moving out of state. As rewarding as it was to run a company, it's been just as rewarding to provide non-profits with his advice or help them fundraise.
Brooks Robinson, the legendary Orioles Hall of Famer and one of Mr. Rosenberg's closest friends, says he remains a force of nature. In 2004, there was talk that there should be a tribute to the former O's third baseman at Camden Yards. Enter one of Baltimore's most reliable benefactors to scoop up that particular idea and take charge. In 2011, Mr. Rosenberg produced what most regard today as a home run — a 1,500-pound, 9-foot-tall tribute to the city's beloved No. 5.
"I warned him he was spending way too much time on a statue. He's always been a good friend and a wonderful person," says Mr. Robinson. "Henry never stops. He does a lot of good in this city that people never hear about."
Born: Nov. 7, 1929, Pittsburgh
Education: McDonogh School, 1948; B.A. Hobart College, 1952
Career: President, Crown Central Petroleum Corp., 1966-2001; chairman of the board, Crown Central Petroleum Corporation, 1975-2005; chairman, Rosemore Inc., 2001-present
Civic involvement: Former director, USF&G Corporation; former director, Signet Banking Corporation; director and chairman emeritus, Pride of Baltimore Inc.; ex officio director, Kennedy Krieger Institute; trustee emeritus, Loyola University in Maryland; board of trustees, Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation; board of trustees, McDonogh School; President's Advisory Council, Notre Dame University of Maryland; member, UMBC President's Board of Visitors; member, board of trustees, Frank J. Battaglia Signal 13 Foundation; President's Advisory Council, Stevenson University; former executive board member, national and Baltimore area councils of the Boy Scouts of America; trustee emeritus, Goucher College; advisory board member, William Donald Schaefer Center, University of Baltimore; trustee emeritus, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; trustee emeritus, Johns Hopkins Hospital; former director and chairman, National Flag Day Foundation, Inc.; former director, The Lacrosse Foundation, Inc.
Family: Married to Dorothy Rosenberg; Mr. Rosenberg has three married children and three grandchildren; Ms. Rosenberg has four married children and nine grandchildren.