Elliot Rubin Weinstein, founder of Village Development Group, a leading developer of residential communities and commercial retail space in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, died Nov. 1 of complications from lung cancer.
A devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Weinstein, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was 86.
Weinstein was a native of the Bronx, N.Y., the youngest child of Meyer and Kate Weinstein, Jewish immigrants from Poland.
As a young man, Elliot Weinstein took night courses and graduated from New York University with a degree in banking and finance, all while working in the construction industry. He also served in the U.S. Army and was a Korean War-era veteran.
In his mid-20s, Weinstein moved to Silver Spring to take over a Maryland-based construction company that would eventually become Village Development Group.
“My father expanded the company into a business that now has 5,000 units, rental and for sale, across Maryland, Washington, D.C., and southern Pennsylvania,” said his son, Steven Weinstein, who is now president and owner of the Randallstown-based Village Development Group. “Dad was a hard worker. He worked five-and-a-half to six days a week. He was very driven, he pushed everybody to be the best they could be. And he wasn’t afraid of any job on the site.”
Soon after moving to Maryland, Weinstein met his future wife of 57 years, Susan Weinstein (nee Rudo), an art teacher. “Two different people who didn’t know each other tried to fix them up within one week!” said Steven Weinstein.
The couple had their first date at the old Pimlico Restaurant and became engaged shortly thereafter. “They had a very good marriage,” said the Weinsteins’ daughter-in-law, Julie Bernstein. “After 57 years, they still walked down the street holding hands. The way he looked at her, with a sparkle in his eye, was a beautiful thing.”
Weinstein’s daughter, Marilyn Berman, agreed. “He always loved traveling with my mom,” she said. “He always had a big smile for everyone, but especially for my mom. He and Mom laughed all the time. … Family was just everything to him. He always told us that we were his greatest achievements. He loved spending quality time with his family.”
The Weinsteins had three children: Steven, Marilyn and Adriane, and moved to the Baltimore area from Silver Spring in 1975.
Marilyn Berman said her father was well-respected by his peers for his integrity and ethics, as well for his sense of compassion for others,
“He was always fair and honest with everyone,” she said. “Everybody came to him for advice because they respected him. He was always willing to help.”
She also said her father had a knack for making friends wherever he went.
“He was a real schmoozer who would talk to everyone wherever he went and make everyone feel comfortable and welcome,” she said. “He always asked people ‘Where are you from?” which would start a warm conversation.
“He always had a joke for every situation. He just had a library of jokes and he kept them all in his head. He picked everyone up with his smile and his sense of humor.”
Gary Berman, Weinstein’s son-in-law, remembered his father-in-law’s quick wit and encyclopedic capacity for joke-telling.
“He had hundreds and hundreds of jokes in his brain,” Berman said. “I don’t know how he did it. If you were down, he could always pick up your spirits. Not everyone can do that.”
“My Dad was always game for a good adventure,” said Marilyn Berman. “Anytime anyone asked him to go somewhere, he was always up for it. If some friends wanted to go on a cruise or travel across the country, he was always ready to go. He was just such a fun-loving, wonderful, warm guy, a real mentsch.
“He was the best, he really was,” she said. “My sister, Adriane, and I always said he was the best daddy a girl could ever have.”
Said Susan Weinstein: “Family was the most important thing to him. He loved all his children. He loved his son-in-laws, Gary and Morris, and his daughter-in-law, Julie, as if they were his own.”
“When he was a kid, he had a train set but no locomotive because his family couldn’t afford one,” Gary Berman said. “So he would just sit on the floor and push his trains around the track.”
For his 86th birthday, Berman got Weinstein the locomotive he never had growing up in the Bronx. The train set was assembled, with a new Lionel locomotive, and Weinstein, with a smile, controlled it around the track.
Gary Berman said the day before Weinstein passed away, he played with the train with his great-grandson sitting in his lap.
“It was a memorable sight,” said Gary Berman. “He never wanted his children or grandchildren to want or need anything. That’s just who he was.”
As a younger man, Weinstein enjoyed playing tennis, golf and skiing. “He also liked card-playing, but not for big money,” said his son. “He’d call friends and say, ‘You didn’t show up for cards last night. You owe me $2!’”
Weinstein was a strong supporter of State of Israel Bonds and The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. When he and his wife began dividing their time between Pikesville and Florida, Weinstein also became involved with the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.
“He was very proud of his Jewish life,” said Marilyn Berman. “He loved the holidays and simchahs. He just loved sitting at the head of the table on holidays and gazing at his family.”
In addition, the Weinsteins were committed to their synagogue, Beth El, and provided financial support for the construction of the congregation’s mikvah in the 1980s. Six years ago, the Weinsteins helped fund the mikvah’s renovation project.
“My parents thought it was important to have a conversion place for people who weren’t Orthodox,” said Steven Weinstein. “His Jewish heritage meant a lot to him.”
Gary Berman said he and his family were moved by the high volume of condolence cards they received after Weinstein’s passing. “He just touched so many people,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Weinstein is survived by his wife, Susan Weinstein; his children, Steven Weinstein (Julie Bernstein), Marilyn (Gary) Berman, and Adriane (Morris) Horvitz; his grandchildren, Michael (Alison) Berman, Jordan (Chelsea) Weinstein, David (Rachel) Berman, Zachary Weinstein, Robert (Amanda) Berman, Eric (Conni) Weinstein, Bradley Horvitz, Lexi Bernstein, and Justin Horvitz; and his great-grandchildren, Amber, Leo, Jaxsen, Ella, Mason, Oliver, and Nathan.
Contributions in Weinstein’s memory may be sent to the Susan and Elliot Weinstein Scholarship Fund, Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, Md.21208.