In 1996, Baltimore-based real estate developer Stewart Greenebaum and his wife, Marlene, made a $10 million gift to the University of Maryland Medical System and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The largest private contribution ever made to the School or Hospital, the gift was made in recognition of the Medical Center’s "extraordinary growth and progress." In recognition of the record-breaking gift, the Medical System and School of Medicine renamed the University of Maryland Cancer Center after the Greenebaums.
The Greenebaums have a long history of personal affiliation with the Medical System. In the 1960s Greenebaum’s father was successfully and compassionately treated for an abdominal aneurysm at University Hospital, sowing the seeds for Stewart and Marlene Greenebaum’s life-long involvement with the institution.
Greenebaum, who was president of the regional real estate development company Greenebaum and Rose Associates, was invited to join the Medical System Board of Directors in 1990. He served as chairman from 1994-1998. Both Stewart and Marlene Greenebaum served on the Cancer Center Board of Advisors since its inception in 1993.
"As chairman, I have been privileged to watch first-hand as this remarkable institution evolved into a state-of-the-art, world-class medical facility, and to see the School of Medicine triple its research funding and become a major force in the advancement of medical science," Greenebaum said at the time he and Marlene made their gift. "I am extremely proud to have played even a small part in these tremendous advances. Marlene and I could think of no better place to share the good fortune with which we have been blessed."
In addition to recognizing the Medical System’s growth and progress, the Greenebaum gift had a very personal meaning for the couple. Marlene Greenebaum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990.
"At the time of my diagnosis, Stewart promised me that we’d do something very significant to celebrate my recovery," she said.
Greenebaum surprised both his wife and the Medical System Board of Directors with the $10 million gift, which he pledged exactly five years to the day he first learned of his wife’s diagnosis.
"It is a remarkable act, by a remarkable man and a devoted husband," said Morton I. Rapoport, M.D., then president and CEO of the Medical System. "Stewart’s leadership was essential in moving the Medical System through one of the most difficult and challenging times in the long history of this institution — the growth of managed care, the demands for cost-effective services, the consolidation of the health care marketplace and the changing role of medicine. Without a strong Board and an equally strong chairman, the University of Maryland Medical System would not be the great institution it is today. His leadership has been at least as important to our success as his generous gift."
Added Donald E. Wilson, M.D., M.A.C.P., then dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine: "Stewart has always made clear his adamant belief that the School of Medicine and Medical System are irrevocably joined and that only by collaboration will our continued success as a center of excellence be assured. His great generosity is a vote of confidence that our institutions will continue their leadership in education, research and patient care."
Stewart and Marlene Greenebaum worked untiringly among Baltimore’s civic and community leaders for years, with a continuing interest in philanthropy. In 1994 the Greenebaums started the "Access to Medicine Fund," a program of scholarships for University of Maryland School of Medicine students who are residents of Maryland. Contributions from the Greenebaums and more than 50 of their friends support the fund. Stewart Greenebaum was a member of the Board of Advisors of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and past Chairman of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), where the Greenebaums created an annual Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series which has attracted world-wide recognition.
The philanthropic interests of the well-known developer and his wife also extended to other civic endeavors. The Greenebaums were founders in 1991 of the Children’s House at Johns Hopkins. They donated $800,000 towards the construction of an 18-bedroom facility that provides lodging for families of children being treated for life-threatening illnesses. Stewart spearheaded the drive that ultimately raised almost $2 million in donated building materials and services from more than 100 companies and 3000 volunteers. Greenebaum was chairman of the Board of the Children’s House. He was also an active board member and volunteer with the Baltimore-based "Believe In Tomorrow Foundation," making dreams come true for hundreds of children with life-threatening diseases, and was past Chairman and co-founder of the Elijah Cummings Youth Program, a program that sends inner-city high school students to visit Israel.
Both Greenebaums were active leaders in the Jewish community. Stewart Greenebaum served as past chairman of Israel Bonds of Maryland, a Board member of Hadassah Hospitals in Jerusalem, Israel, founding President of the Shoshanna Cardin High School, and past president of Temple Oheb Shalom. Marlene Greenebaum was past president of Oheb Shalom Sisterhood and past president of Miriam Lodge.
But their belief in the future of the University became the Greenebaums’ abiding passion. "Today’s University of Maryland Medical System is not just a good hospital. It is a great hospital that with the School of Medicine touches the lives of all Marylanders through patient care, medical education and research programs," the Greenebaums stated.
Noted Rapoport, "Stewart often said we have a responsibility in this world to leave it a better place than when we came into it, and he acted on that belief. With their contribution, the Greenebaums have given something back not just to the Medical System and School of Medicine, but to the residents of Baltimore and the citizens of the state."
Though our dedicated friends and steadfast champions have passed — Stewart in December 2017 and Marlene in December 2018 — the Greenebaums continue to play a part in the healing work we do every day. Following Marlene’s passing, Kevin J. Cullen, director of UMGCCC, offered this tribute: “The legacy of Marlene Greenebaum is seen every day through our achievements and progress in cancer care. Marlene was a dear friend and benefactor who turned her experience with cancer into a mission to help those who suffer from the disease here in Maryland and around the world.”
Drawing on her own experience, Marlene brought comfort to countless patients and their families over the last two decades. “She was the embodiment of grace and compassion along her own cancer journey and in how she supported others in theirs,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, then president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, currently president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System.
Perhaps that is Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum’s greatest legacy of all — the kindness, compassion, and understanding they demonstrated for those facing the challenge of cancer, the offer of hope.
To make a gift in support of the Greenebaum Cancer Center, please click here.