Baltimore native Harvey M. ‘Bud’ Meyerhoff, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Council and philanthropist, dies

Harvey M. “Bud” Meyerhoff was a major benefactor of cultural institutions in Baltimore and Israel.

Harvey M. “Bud” Meyerhoff, a developer and advocate for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, died of heart failure Sunday at his Baltimore County home. He was 96.

“By far the most significant volunteer leadership experience of his life was the chairmanship of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council,” his daughter Lee Hendler said. “As chair for over 6 years — he succeeded Elie Wiesel — Bud guided the design, and oversaw the construction and fundraising that allowed the museum to open on time and on budget in 1993 — a task many considered impossible until he assumed the chair role.”


She said Mr. Meyerhoff’s name, along with those of Wiesel and President Bill Clinton, is carved into the museum’s cornerstone.

Mr. Meyerhoff explained to The Sun in 1991 why he thought the memorial was necessary: “In 20 years, the eyewitnesses to this immense tragedy — survivors, liberators and rescuers — will be gone. A new generation will be born into a world that has no witnesses to the Holocaust.”


Born in Baltimore, Harvey Morton “Bud” Meyerhoff was the son of Joseph Meyerhoff, a builder and the namesake of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s concert hall, and Rebecca Witten.

A 1945 graduate of what is today Forest Park Senior High School, he earned a degree at the University of Wisconsin and enlisted in the Navy near the end of World War II.

“He always said it was one of the more important experiences of his life. Exposed to Americans from all races and classes, he learned to love and respect our country’s diversity,” Lee Hendler said.

She described her father as “determined, disciplined, exacting, demanding, loyal, curious, rigorous intellect, stickler for details, generous employer, ethical, a man of commitment and conviction and meticulous.”

She also said he was a “superb writer who shared complex reflections and directions in clear yet lyrical language in letters, essays or his speeches.”

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said: “Bud was bigger than life. Years ago, when I was serving in the legislature, I saw how effective and tireless he was in making sure the Baltimore symphony hall would be built. He was one of the most effective lobbyists I ever met. He went over every detail to make sure it would be a perfect venue. He was truly the man behind the scenes.

“He was a friend, supporter and adviser, although he and I did not share all the same philosophical views. Bud never forgot his roots and always gave back to the community.”

Regarding the Holocaust Museum, Sen. Cardin said, “It was not easy to get permission to put a building on the National Mall, but Bud was the leading factor in making it a reality.”


Mr. Meyerhoff led his family real estate and construction firm to focus on developing shopping centers, including Westview and Eastpoint and Town and Country apartments. He directed the merger of the Meyerhoff Corp. with Monumental Life Insurance Co., which became Monumental Properties Inc. in 1969.

He was a major benefactor of cultural institutions in Baltimore and Israel.

“He believed that successful municipalities require first-class museums, theaters, zoos, symphonies, community centers and aquariums,” his daughter said.

“He never asked others for support until he had made his own meaningful gift,” she said. “His particular passions in Baltimore were the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Aquarium, the Zoo, Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Johns Hopkins University, Port Discovery and the Park School.”

Fred Lazarus, former Maryland Institute College of Art president, said: “Bud was very much interested in our career center. He wanted to help young artists find job opportunities and support themselves. He helped establish internships and other possibilities.”

“My father was proud to have located the site and supervised the construction of the current Park School campus when the school moved there in 1959 from Liberty Heights Avenue,” his daughter said. “He was proud to be Jewish and was, like his father, often the first Jew to hold key volunteer leadership positions.”


Mr. Meyerhoff was an early supporter and minority investor in the Orioles franchise.

“He cared little for baseball but he understood how important it was for Baltimore to have a major league baseball team,” his daughter said.

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Mr. Meyerhoff often traveled by sea aboard The Moose, a yacht he owned.

“He took great delight in navigating and captaining,” said his daughter. “He understood, knew how to operate, and service every element of every boat he owned.”

“My father enjoyed fine things and collected Steuben [Glass Works] art glass sculptures. But knew how to light a fire, fix motors and make a bed with precise hospital corners,” his daughter said.

She said he believed it was crucial to support institutions and activities that primarily benefit the middle class. Lee Hendler quoted him often saying, “It is the middle class of America that makes our country what it is and too often that’s overlooked or taken for granted.”


Mr. Meyerhoff was also chair emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He was also a past chair of the Hopkins Medical Systems board and a university trustee for more than two decades.

Private graveside services will be held.

Mr. Meyerhoff is survived by his wife of 18 years, Phyllis Cahn Meyerhoff; daughters Terry Rubenstein, Lee Hendler and Zoh Hieronimus, all of Baltimore; a son, Joe Meyerhoff II of Baltimore; 10 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. His first wife, Lyn Pancoe, died in 1988.