Melvin Berger, who founded a Baltimore County savings and loan and was the co-donor of downtown Baltimore's Holocaust Memorial sculpture, died in his sleep Friday at his Pikesville home. He was 76.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Whitechapel Road, he graduated from City College in 1950 and attended the University of Baltimore School of Law. He entered his parent's real estate business, William Berger Real Estate, on East North Avenue.
In 1961, he founded Yorkridge Federal Savings and Loan Association in Baltimore County.
"A radiant, infectious smile was his trademark," said his son, Baltimore Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger. "He needed $100,000 in deposits, and he solicited deposits, no matter how small the amount."
Mr. Berger was Yorkridge's president for many years and remained on a first-name basis with many of his depositors.
He also became involved with local religious organizations and charities. He was a giver to the Jewish National Fund, among other organizations.
"I recall various rabbis coming to our back door in search of donations," his son said. "As a child, I asked him why he gave. He explained to me, 'Because it's what we do.'"
His son described his father as an extraordinary man who loved people, especially children.
Mr. Berger was a past president of Northwest Hospital Center and served on the boards of Towson University and Sinai Hospital.
In 1987, he joined appliance dealer Jack Luskin to donate funds for artist Joseph Sheppard to design and cast a bronze flame of death for the Baltimore Holocaust Memorial at Lombard and Gay streets. A year later, at its dedication, he stood alongside the sculpture, dedicated in the memory of Kristallnacht - the Night of Broken Glass - when Nazis destroyed Jewish homes, shops and synagogues in 1938.
In the mid-1980s Mr. Berger became involved in another business, a chain of child day care centers called My Second Home. He also helped his children open several Cold Stone Creamery ice cream franchises in the Baltimore area.
Services were held Sunday.
Survivors also include his wife of 33 years, the former Jeanne R. Holmes; another son, Ryan Berger of Baltimore; two daughters Mindy Berger and Whitney Whiteman, both of Owings Mills; a sister, Mildred Schwartz of Baltimore; and three grandchildren. His marriage to the former Bernice Offit ended in divorce.