Friday, September 16, 2011

In Memoriam…Frederic W. Glassberg

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When I was in college and working part time for The Rouse Company, Fred Glassberg was hired as the Vice President of Howard Research and Development (HRD), the company subsidiary that was charged with developing Columbia. Fred was second in command to Doug MacGregor, who was then General Manager of Columbia.

Back in those days, HRD owned 90% of the office and retail space in Columbia as well as most of the apartments and Fred was known as “the landlord of Columbia.” As you might imagine, this moniker was not always a term of endearment. It was not an easy time for Columbia, or even the Rouse Company for that matter. He oversaw turbulent years at Merriweather Post Pavilion when riots after a concert in the summer of 1975 threatened to shut the facility down for good. The next summer, when another real estate recession almost bought down The Rouse Company, he orchestrated the largest commercial real estate refinancing in the country that year for the company.

After leaving The Rouse Company in the early eighties, Fred started his own development company, Crystal Hill Investments. Shortly thereafter he hired me as a leasing agent for his new buildings. I remember telling him in the interview that I didn’t know anything about office leasing and he told me that I could learn. That was typical Fred. If he believed in you he would help you succeed.

Yet another real estate recession in the late eighties bought down Crystal Hill but not Fred. He simply changed his focus to helping communities develop economic development strategies.

Fred was also a big runner and he encouraged those around him to run with him. In his fifties he ran a 50 mile ultra marathon in Montana, a feat which amazes me now that I’m in my fifties.

Fred was also a big dog guy, raising a succession of Newfoundland’s. He often quipped that he put a swimming pool in his Clarksville home largely so his dogs could cool themselves off on hot summer days. I remember once telling him that if there was such a thing as an afterlife I’d want to come back as one of his dogs.

Fred was a mentor and a friend and I am grateful I had the opportunity to know him.

Service for Fred will be held this Sunday, Sept. 17 at 12 noon at Sol Levinson's Funeral Home on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to be made in Fred's memory either to the charity of your choice or to the Fifth District Volunteer Fire Department in Clarksville.
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