Harvey Morton “Bud” Meyerhoff demanded the highest quality not only of himself, but those he came in contact with. It allowed him to sustain the Meyerhoff name in real estate, philanthropy and civic leadership.
Meyerhoff died Sunday at his Baltimore County home, according to family. He was 96.
His father, Joseph “Joe” Meyerhoff, immigrated to Baltimore from Russia in 1906 before marrying Rebecca Witten in 1921, according to the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds foundation. The couple had two daughters and a son, Harvey, who was born in 1927.
Terry Rubenstein, Meyerhoff’s daughter, said her father was demanding and parented in an “exacting” manner.
“He approached raising us like he would with his projects, with a certain kind of diligence and excellence. And so whether it was running his building company, building thousands of apartments throughout the state and along the East Coast or when he took over to build a Holocaust museum in Washington, he approached it with the highest level of quality,” Rubenstein said.
Meyerhoff chaired the governing council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, raising money and leading the design and construction.
“This building tells the story of events that human eyes should never have seen even once; but having been seen, must never be forgotten,” he said at its dedication on April 22, 1993. “Through this Museum, our eyes will always see; our hearts will always feel. But it is not sufficient to remember the past, we must learn from it.”
Sara Bloomfield, the museum’s director, credited Meyerhoff with making the museum a reality.
“I don’t think there would be a museum without Bud’s leadership,” Bloomfield said, adding that he stayed affiliated with the museum even after stepping down as chairman and remained active until recent years, when his health began to decline.
”He really thought that learning history and the lessons of the Holocaust, were important for every American, and he considered a museum a gift to the country now, and something that would help, you know, strengthen its democracy,” Bloomfield said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin described Meyerhoff as a friend and adviser as well as an “incredible” activist in their community.
“He really was very focused on getting things accomplished, and leaving a legacy of health for our community,” said Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who currently serves on the museum’s governing board.
Cardin said Meyerhoff was instrumental in various community projects and generous to the community.
“He was a bigger-than-life presence in a room,” Cardin added. “He was very active in driving home partnerships to get things accomplished.”
The Meyerhoff name is familiar to many Baltimoreans because of the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, which is named for his father. It opened in 1982 and is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
The Meyerhoff, an oval-shaped music venue, was made possible by financial support from Joe Meyerhoff as well as Baltimore City and the state of Maryland. According to Cardin, the presence of both Meyerhoffs was critical to the music venue’s creation.
“They really did not have a deep knowledge of the technical aspects of the symphony, but they thought it was critical for Baltimore to have a top-rated symphony orchestra. And that was an important part of Baltimore moving forward,” Cardin said. “I think they enjoyed being at the concert hall listening to symphonies, but it was not really what I would call their passion … their passion was to have that facility to demonstrate Baltimore’s first-class future.”
Cardin, who is not seeking reelection after decades in public service, reflected on his many dealings with Bud Meyerhoff over the years.
“Every time I had the opportunity to be with him — and it was quite frequently — I always found it to be very helpful and constructive,” Cardin said.
Whether talking about economic development, the city school system or civic issues in general, Cardin said, Meyerhoff was engaging and positive. ”He is certainly going to be missed,” the senator said.
A Baltimore native, Meyerhoff graduated from Forest Park High School before earning a degree from the University of Wisconsin and enlisting in the Navy toward World War II’s end, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds foundation has played a major role in the community for decades, touching many aspects of city life.
“The family agrees that our deep historical connection to Baltimore calls for continued investment here as well as with projects impacting the Jewish people,” the foundation states on its website. “The funds enable us to make significant contributions to improve the quality of life in Baltimore, and in the Jewish community locally, nationally, and in Israel.”
Bud Meyerhoff — who directed grantmaking for the family’s foundation until 2000 — also chaired institutions including the Johns Hopkins Health System and the United Way of Central Maryland, according to the foundation’s website. In his decades-long career, he rose to prominence in national real estate industry groups.
Ron Daniels, the president of the Johns Hopkins University, said the Hopkins community was “deeply saddened” too learn of Meyerhoff’s passing.
“A fiercely proud Baltimore native, Bud was a true champion of our city and the institutions that supported Baltimore’s economic, intellectual, and cultural life,” Daniels said in a written statement. “Johns Hopkins was fortunate to benefit from his visionary leadership, including as a member of our Board of Trustees and as the inaugural chair of the Johns Hopkins Health System. We are grateful for Bud and his family’s decades of wise counsel and philanthropic support that touched our institution and all those we serve.”
According to the family’s online obituary, Meyerhoff is survived by his wife, Phyllis Cahn Meyerhoff; three daughters, Rubenstein, Lee Hendler and Zoh Hieronimus; a son, Joseph Meyerhoff II; three stepchildren, Susan Davis, Diane (Barton) Wailes, and Nancy Moye; as well as 10 grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his first wife, Lyn Pancoe Meyerhoff; sisters, Peggy Pearlstone and Eleanor Katz; and parents, Rebecca and Joseph Meyerhoff.
Services are private, and a memorial service will be announced at a future date. Contributions in Harvey Meyerhoff’s memory may be sent to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute Of Bioethics, or The Park School in Baltimore.
This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Terry Rubenstein's surname.