Friends and family remembered philanthropist and Whiting-Turner Co. CEO Willard Hackerman on Tuesday as a loyal and smart businessman who was generous with his time and money.
Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg eulogized Hackerman before hundreds of mourners at Beth Tfiloh Congregation. Hackerman, a donor to numerous institutions, including his alma mater the Johns Hopkins University, died Monday at 95 of unknown causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Hackerman, who grew up in Forest Park, was ingrained in projects and philanthropy in Maryland for decades. Hackerman donated scholarships to the Bryn Mawr School for women in engineering and funded the Hackerman House, which houses the Walters Art Museum's Asian collection, among numerous other philanthropic ventures.
Whiting-Turner built the new University of Baltimore School of Law, Harborplace, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the National Aquarium and M&T Bank Stadium, in addition to many other projects throughout the area.
Wohlberg read a statement from Whiting-Turner: "Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful man with us. … He taught us to see the good in everyone."
No matter how busy he was, Hackerman was always home at 6 p.m. to spend time with his family, Wohlberg read in a statement from his family. His life was filled with simple pleasures, such as vegetable gardening, music from the 1940s, map collecting and sculpting. Hackerman's motto was "God, then family, then Whiting-Turner," Wohlberg said.
When describing his job to his children, Hackerman said, "We are the people who solve problems. We can always do better," Wohlberg read.
Wohlberg spoke of the humility and generosity that came with Hackerman's wealth.
"First and foremost, Willard was a smart businessman," he said. "Willard Hackerman knew how to use his money. He never let it go to his head."
In addition, Hackerman put his employees first, Wohlberg said. He avoided closing unsuccessful ventures in order to save their jobs.
"Loyalty meant everything to him. He looked upon his workers as partners," Wohlberg said.
Wohlberg likened Baltimore without Hackerman to Rome without Michelangelo.
"Willard Hackerman is gone, but Baltimore will never be without him," he said. "You don't get to meet too many Michelangelos in the course of a lifetime. You don't get to meet too many Willard Hackermans."