Stewart J. Greenebaum, a Baltimore-based developer, philanthropist and humanitarian who with his wife, Marlene, founded and endowed the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, died Dec. 10 from complications of a stroke at Sinai Hospital.
The former Owings Mills resident was 81.
“Stewart Greenebaum is an iconic person who had a huge heart for Maryland, Baltimore, the University of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical Center,” said Dr. E. Albert Reece, executive vice president of medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Reece, who is also a John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers distinguished professor, called Mr. Greenebaum “a man of ideas and grand visions,” saying he was “an integral part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.”
“He had a deep faith and was very religious but not in a demonstrative way,” said Dr. Kevin J. Cullen, director of the Greenebaum center. “It was his Jewish faith that propelled him to do what he did.
“Philanthropy was a big piece of his life,” he said. “He was unbelievably generous. He just didn’t write checks, he got involved. He was an activist philanthropist.”
The son of Harry Greenebaum, owner of Young’s Men’s Store, and Laura Greenebaum, a homemaker, Stewart Joseph Greenebaum was born in Baltimore and raised on Loyola Southway and later on Garrison Boulevard.
After graduating in 1954 from Forest Park High School, he attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, then obtained a bachelor’s degree in the late 1950s from the University of Baltimore.
He married the former Marlene Goodman in 1960.
He was working with his father at the men’s store chain when he launched his real estate career, purchasing rental housing with proceeds from wedding gifts.
“He was on a business trip to New York when he met a man on the train who said ‘Everyone has 7 ounces of brain, and what are you going to do with yours?’” said his son, Michael I. Greenebaum, of Pikesville, president of Greenebaum Enterprises.
“He told my father — who was a member of an investment club — to buy land,” his son recalled. “The next day he borrowed $500 from his grandmother to purchase a piece of land on Greenspring Avenue. He had a sign painter make a ‘for sale’ sign that included his home phone number.”
Mr. Greenebaum later divested himself of rental properties after he had to evict a family from a Woodhaven Avenue home who had fallen behind in the rent. The first of the family’s possessions he carried out of the house and placed on the sidewalk was a crib.
“I determined I’d starve before I’d do that again,” Mr. Greenebaum told The Baltimore Sun in a 1996 interview. “I’m embarrassed I ever did it once.”
“He sold all of his rental properties and said he never wanted to make anyone homeless again,” his son said.
In 1970, Mr. Greenebaum established Ben Hur Realty, and developed land for single-family housing that he’d then sell to builders. He joined with Sam Rose in 1979 when they purchased a 300-acre tract near Ellicott City which became Burleigh Manor, their first community development.
In 1981, Mr. Greenebaum and Mr. Rose founded Greenebaum & Rose Associates, and in intervening years developed other communities such as Seminary Overlook, Stewart’s Landing, Chestnut Hill Cove, Shipley’s Choice and Maple Lawn in Fulton.
The partners also entered the Washington market and in 1995 completed the 11-story headquarters for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Other projects there included Union Center Plaza, which housed the Washington base for Cable News Network, and the CareFirst headquarters building.
By 1996, they had completed projects “valued in excess of $1 billion,” reported The Sun at the time.
“They developed two million square feet of office space in downtown Washington,” Mr. Greenebaum’s son said.
Dr. Robert C. Gallo, director of the Institute of Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said at Mr. Greenebaum’s funeral the rabbi told a story about a lesson Mr. Greenebaum learned as a young boy about helping others. He said Mr. Greenebaum and his father were in Baltimore once when a man approached and asked for money, which his father gave.
Dr. Gallo said the rabbi related that the younger Mr. Greenebaum asked his dad why he gave money to “that bum,” and his father admonished him, saying: “Because you don’t need it and he does. And don’t forget, you are never to call anyone a bum again.”
In 1990, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“At the time of my diagnosis, Stewart promised me that we’d do something very significant to celebrate my recovery,” said Mrs. Greenebaum in a University of Maryland Medical Center “Our Patrons” profile.
Dr. Reece said that in 1996, the couple made a $10 million gift to the University of Maryland Medical System and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“We named our cancer center the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center,” he said. “After that, he took an incredible interest in cancer.”
Officials said Mr. Greenebaum was a major force in recruiting the Institute of Human Virology’s three co-founders — Dr. Gallo, Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. William Blattner — and subsequently served as IHV’s first board chairman.
“There were times in the early years when I didn’t think we’d make it, and Stewart gave us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Dr. Gallo said. “He did things when we had needs. He was just extraordinary and served on our board until the end.”
Mr. Greenebaum and the Greenbaum Family Foundation endowed the Stewart J. Greenebaum Professorship in Stroke Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s neurology department. The family also originated and endowed IHV’s annual Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Lecture Series at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which Mr. Greenebaum attended regularly.
In 1990, Mr. Greenebaum joined the University of Maryland Medical System board. In 1991, the couple funded establishment of the Children’s House at Johns Hopkins, an 18-bedroom facility that provided lodging for families of children being treated at Hopkins for non-life-threatening illnesses.
Mr. Greenebaum was a visible member of the Jewish community. He chaired Israel Bond campaigns and was founding president of Shoshanna Cardin High School. He was also a past chairman and co-founder of the Elijiah Cummings Youth Program, which sends inner-city high school students to visit Israel.
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The family’s philanthropy extended overseas — the Greenebaums founded the Marlene Greenebaum Multidisciplinary Breast Center at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Mr. Greenebaum, who lived in recent years in Jupiter, Fla., was a member of Temple Oheb Shalom and was a past president of its congregation.
“Stewart wanted to change the world and make it better,” wrote Dr. Cullen in an email to his colleagues. “His success in the business world gave him the lever he needed. Stewart understood that philanthropy is much more than simply donating money. It is about vision and passion and engagement.”
Services were held Wednesday at Temple Oheb Shalom.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Greenebaum is survived by a daughter, Amy Burwen of Clarksville; a brother, Edwin Greenebaum of Pikesville; and three grandchildren.