Remembering Norman Leventhal

Boston lost a great builder earlier this month with the passing of Norman B. Leventhal. He not only built iconic landmarks that dramatically changed Boston's skyline—including Center Plaza, Rowes Wharf and 75 State Street—but he also built some of the city's most important philanthropic and service organizations. From The Leventhal-Sidman JCC to Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Norman used his grace, brilliance and determination to build a company, build landmarks, build a family and ultimately, build an incredible legacy.

My first real estate project involved the demolition of an ugly concrete garage to make room for the splendid Norman Leventhal Park in Post Office Square. Since then, I've known Norman’s name to stand for more than innovative ideas in real estate development. His name also stands for civic obligation and the principles of giving back and paying it forward.

As I listened to speech after speech at his recent memorial service and heard countless stories of his steadfast qualities—humility, calm, patience, optimism and grace—it was impressive to see so many of this city's other developers and philanthropists nod in agreement.

Norman's friends, family and peers told stories of his generosity to all and his great love for the city of Boston. The only greater love he had was that for his wife and family.

Boston lost a great man, but we can continue to benefit from all he leaves us with. If we all take a page from Norman Leventhal's book and resolve to be a little more gracious, a little more generous, a little more persistent and a little more optimistic, then Boston will continue to thrive as he looks down on us from what must be a fabulous perch.

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