Fascinating, beloved, entrepreneurial Wharton alum

Notice in the Washington Post:

On July 9, 2014, Melvyn J. Estrin, 71, died peacefully after a prolonged battle with leukemia. He is survived by his devoted wife of 46 years, Suellen Goldstein Estrin; his son, Brandon Estrin; his daughter, Shannon Estrin Rosoff (Laurence); five loving grandchildren, Dylan, Ella and Taylor Rosoff and Clarissa and Felix Barber; sisters, Wilma Bernstein (Stuart) and Mickey Lemer (William). He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Memorial donations may be made in Melvyn Estrin's name to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 1311 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 310, White Plains, NY 10605 which is dedicated to fighting blood cancer in adults and children.

Brief note about Mel and the Wharton Club:

We honored Mel with our top honor, the Joseph Wharton Award in 1994, 20 years ago. His venue of choice: The Park Hyatt Washington. During that entire period, with only one exception, has been the Park. We will return there again this year, on October 22, part of his ongoing legacy to our Club, Wharton alumni, and our community. He gave and did so much, and inspired so many, as you will see if you read the article in the Washington Post, part of which is below.

As with so many others he knew, we will miss him.

From the Washington Post, July 12, 2014, Copyright, Washington Post:Melvyn J. Estrin dies; Washington businessman was also a Broadway investor

By staff reports July 12

Melvyn J. Estrin, a financier and venture capitalist whose business interests encompassed real estate, hospitals, banks, training services for the federal government, and investments in movies and Broadway shows, died July 9 at a Washington hospital. He was 71.

The cause was leukemia, said a nephew, Keith Lemer.

In the late 1980s, the now-defunct Regardie’s business magazine listed Mr. Estrin among the 100 wealthiest people in Washington. He was a major donor to Republican presidential contenders and once flew then-candidate George W. Bush around in his personal Learjet.

Mr. Estrin, who once quipped that charitable groups seldom asked him to contribute less than $1 million, had homes in Washington, Aspen, Colo., Palm Beach, Fla., and Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Although he grew up in privilege as the son of a prominent Washington businessman, Mr. Estrin amassed a fortune largely on his own. He returned to the District after graduating in 1964 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of business with the hope of joining his father’s wholesale drug business.

Melvyn Estrin, businessman and financier, in 1989. (Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post)

His father offered him an annual salary of $7,500, but Mr. Estrin held out for $10,000.

“You’re not worth it,” his father told him, according to a Washingtonian magazine profile.

Instead, Mr. Estrin and a partner cobbled together $16,000 to convert an old barbershop on Pennsylvania Avenue into a disco, Tomfoolery, that became a sensation during the era of the frug and watusi.

That was Mr. Estrin’s launching pad into subsequent investments in real estate and other ventures. In 1971, he acquired a $2 million stake in American Health Services, an operator of general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes. Less than a decade later, he sold his interest for $36 million, according to The Washington Post.

Mr. Estrin also became board chairman of University Research Corp., which provides training and technical services to the government. By the late 1980s, URC was producing $27 million a year for a holding company called Estrin-Abod International, The Post reported. Charles Abod, an accountant, was Mr. Estrin’s longtime partner in managing his many business interests. For more, click here .