Mel Gebroe, 86, Verona philanthropist, investor

Mel Gebroe, 86, Verona philanthropist, investor

Melvin Gebroe, 86, of Verona and Boca Raton, Fla., a founder of a real estate investment firm who devoted his time and resources to a host of area Jewish institutions, died Nov. 17, 2011, in Florida.

In 1975, he and the late Morris Hammer founded Gebroe-Hammer Associates, a real estate investment firm based in Livingston.

As a supporter of the United Jewish Appeal of MetroWest, he was a member of Achim, an honor reserved for those giving at the highest level, as well as the Lester Society, which honors those who commit $100,000 or more to the annual campaign.

On the Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany, the conference center is named the Gebroe & Hammer Families Conference Center. The two families also dedicated the Gebroe-Hammer Headquarters for United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.

Gebroe served on the board of Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, where he founded the Mel and Laurel Gebroe Youth Center. He also served on the boards of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, UJC MetroWest, and the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest.

In 1975, he was honored by the Israeli leader and war hero Moshe Dayan for recognition of his support of State of Israel Bonds. He also had endowed two chairs at New York Presbyterian Hospital, having survived multiple myeloma for 25 years.

Gebroe also served as chair of the UJA Crestmont Country Club Campaign, a Major Gifts Cabinet member, cochair of the UJA Campaign Pacesetters, and chair of the UJA Builders and Real Estate Campaign.

“Mel was one of my earliest mentors, a true professional in every respect, a colleague,” said Norman Feinstein, cochair of Major Gifts for UJA MetroWest. “Most of all, he will remain in my memory as one of the most sensitive and understanding friends. I will miss him deeply.”

Marty Barber, past president of the Jewish Community Foundation MetroWest, said, “I knew Mel for over 30 years as a temple member, business partner, community leader, and a friend. To say that I was fond of him would be quite an understatement. He was one of my mentors and was extremely generous, tough but always fair.

“Our community will miss him. I will miss him.”

“Mel was a great broker, a great partner, and a great friend,” said Alan Hammer, the son of Mimi and Morris Hammer, Gebroe’s longtime partner, and a member of the Major Gifts Cabinet and Achim Division of UJA MetroWest. “He was a legend in the apartment industry.”

Melvin Gebroe was born in the Bronx. He served as a control tower operator in the U.S. Army during World War II. He began his career in real estate by selling single-family homes for J.I. Kislak Inc., rising through the ranks until he was named president of the corporation.

Predeceased by his first wife, Laurel, whom he married in 1948; a daughter, Joanie; and a brother, Norman; he is survived by his wife of three years, Annette; his son, Alan, and daughter-in-law, Robyn, of Livingston; his daughter, Linda, and her life partner, Rebecca Silverstein, of San Francisco; two grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; four stepdaughters, Pamela Allocco, Bethann Lipke, Melissa Baumgartner, and Danielle Shiflett; and 13 step-grandchildren.

Services were held Nov. 20 at Temple Beth Shalom with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston.

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