Local automotive entrepreneur Len Stoler and his wife, Roslyn, have donated $25 million to help fund a major expansion project of the University of Maryland Medical Center Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It is the single largest philanthropic gift in the history of UMMC, which was founded as the Baltimore Infirmary in 1823. The previous largest gift of $10 million was donated in 1996 by the Greenebaum family, which continues to support the institution.

“We feel very blessed to do this,” Mr. Stoler said at a media gathering Oct. 25 at downtown ‘s Center Club. “We pick and choose [to fund] the institutions that we believe in. Tzedakah means charity and justice. So if you think about it, that is what we’re doing today.”

Mrs. Stoler said she and her husband first became involved with the UMMC 25 years ago when their granddaughter, Lindsay, then 5, had kidney cancer.

“We went into the cellar [of the medical center building for radiological treatments] and I saw what [patients] went through going to all these different doctors,” she said, with her husband adding, “It was difficult physically and emotionally to do this. Because of this [planned] building, all of the advances they’re making and all of the doctors and nurses will be there in one building, a truly multi-discipline facility.”

The funds are earmarked for a state-of-the-art patient care tower that will enable UMGCCC to provide technologically advanced, integrated care to cancer patients locally, regionally and nationally. The proposed nine-story, 130,000-square-foot patient care building will be built onto the front of the medical center at 22 Greene St.

“Roslyn and Len Stoler have been incredible partners with our cancer center for 20 years, and we are forever grateful for their commitment to us and confidence in our ability to continue to make our oncology program among the finest in the world,” said Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum professor of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “They have been there for us in the past, they are part of our present, and now they are helping to transform our future.

“Having a building dedicated uniquely to the care of our cancer patients will provide us with the opportunity to truly define the future of patient-centric cancer care at the University of Maryland Medical Center,” he said.

UMMC media event

Dr. Kevin J. Cullen: “This new building, which will house both inpatient and outpatient cancer care, will be a huge leap forward in the history of the Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.” (Photo by Simone Ellin)

Dr. Kevin J. Cullen, the  Greenebaum distinguished professor of oncology at the UMSOM and director of the UMGCCC, said the donation is part of an overall $200 million building project. He said the state has already committed $125 million to the project; the rest of the funding will come from other private donors and sources.

The UMGCCC treats approximately 3,000 cancer patients annually. In 2015, Gov. Larry Hogan was successfully treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the Greenebaum Canter Center.

Cullen said the groundbreaking for the building — which is planned to be named in honor of the Stolers — will be in late 2019 or early 2020, and is expected to take about 30 months.

“This new building, which will house both inpatient and outpatient cancer care, will be a huge leap forward in the history of the Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center,” he said. “The cancer center’s new home will be designed from the ground up with the optimal patient experience in mind. …

“We’re growing very, very rapidly, and it’s really been the success of what we do here in providing multi-disciplinary care, access to cutting-edge clinical trials and state-of-the-art therapies that has expanded our ability to serve patients,” Dr. Cullen said. “The Stolers’ gift ensures that we will have a facility that enables us to provide care in as patient-friendly a manner as possible.”

A familiar face on local TV commercials, Mr. Stoler in 1968 founded the Len Stoler Automotive Group, which now owns more than a dozen dealership franchises in the Baltimore metropolitan area and New York.

The Stolers, who have been married for 58 years, live in Stevenson and belong to Pikesville’s  Beth El Congregation. They have two children, 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

In 2003, they funded the Roslyn and Leonard Stoler Pavilion at UMGCCC for outpatient care. They also have been major contributors and lay leaders of Beth El and the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital, among other local institutions.

“When we were first approached [by former UMMS President and CEO Dr. Morton I. Rapoport about funding the new building project], I said to Leonard, ‘We have to do it,'” said Mrs. Stoler. “It’s wonderful. We’re glad to do it.”

Said Mr. Stoler: “Our deepest wish is that we can bring some light to people who are suffering physically and mentally. .. There are very few things you can do that truly make a difference in a person’s life. In doing something for cancer patients, I think you are really making a difference.”

The UMMGCC is a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Baltimore. The center is a joint entity of the UMMC and UMSOM. It is ranked among the top cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.