Sheldon Goldseker, real estate developer and head of family charitable foundation, dies

Sheldon Goldseker, a philanthropic leader who chaired a charitable foundation while heading his own real estate development firm, died Friday at Sinai Hospital following a stroke. He was 82 and lived in Pikesville.

The Goldseker Foundation, created by his uncle, Morris Goldseker, has awarded grants to numerous nonprofit organizations and projects during its nearly 50-year history.


“Sheldon Goldseker was a visionary entrepreneur who dedicated his life to family, philanthropy and the betterment of Baltimore. His passing leaves a void in our hearts, but his legacy of generosity and civic devotion will forever illuminate a meaningful path for us all to follow,” Marc Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, said.

Matthew Gallagher, the foundation’s president and CEO, said: “We work in neighborhood and community development. We support schools and scholarships. He helped nonprofits get stabilized.”


Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Samuel Goldseker and Saidye Abramowitz. A 1958 Baltimore City College graduate, he went on to study at the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University and University of Baltimore School of Law.

Mr. Goldseker was a trustee of the Baltimore Community Foundation and sat on its board for 38 years.

According to a biography supplied by the Goldseker Foundation, he was one of the founding members and the 1983 president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, now the Maryland Philanthropy Network.

“Sheldon was the most honorable, reliable, and conscientious person I have ever known,” said Jack Luetkemeyer, president of Rollins–Luetkemeyer Foundation, which gives funds to build school buildings.

He established his own real estate development firm, Multi-Properties Inc., with a cousin, Simon Goldseker. They built and operated apartments in Baltimore and Pennsylvania.

“He was thorough, but caring,” said Sheila Purkey, Multi-Properties’ comptroller. “MPI was such a special place to work because he always treated everyone like family.”

Mr. Goldseker’s uncle, Morris Goldseker, died in 1973. His will stipulated that the proceeds of his estate be used to “give aid and encouragement to worthy individuals to continue their education, establish themselves in business, overcome such adversities as accident or illness, or to maintain or support themselves or their families.”

The foundation’s first grant was for $300,000 to the old Lutheran Hospital of Maryland in West Baltimore for financial assistance to patients.


Morris Goldseker also stipulated in his will that no grant could be awarded to institutions that discriminated on the basis of race, color or creed.

Sheldon Goldseker became the foundation’s chair and headed its investment committee.

He oversaw the foundation’s growth from $11 million into an endowment with a market valuation of approximately $140 million.

The foundation, in a statement, said it had provided more than $130 million “in support to Baltimore’s people and institutions over its nearly half-century existence.”

The foundation began making gifts through scholarships and to community groups not long after the death of Morris Goldseker, whose Franklin Street real estate business was picketed by housing activists in the 1960s. The activists said the firm’s business practices were unfair to low-income African American families.

Baltimore housing activist Vincent Quayle, a leader of the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, laid the blame for housing inequity on the redlining lending practices of area banks.


“Sheldon and I met 45 years ago and for nearly 35 of them enjoyed a close professional relationship,” said Timothy Armbruster, a former president and CEO of the Goldseker Foundation. “Very early on, he told me that his greatest hope for the foundation was that it would become best known for its work to improve the lives of our Baltimore neighbors.”

In 1971, Sheldon Goldseker, who was managing his uncle’s real estate business at the time, testified before the Maryland General Assembly.

In a Sun story, he said his firm was “doing what it could to solve the problems of housing for the poor.”

He also appeared in a WBAL-TV show, “Brass Tacks,” and defended the fact that the Goldseker firm sold properties to African American families in racially changing neighborhoods.

“Sheldon never sought personal attention or power,” said Suzy Katzenberg, friend and Goldseker Foundation director. “He was humble and supportive and helped build his uncle’s real estate business. He was honorable and did business on a handshake basis.”

The foundation published a report in 1987 that described “rot beneath the glitter” of the Inner Harbor and warned that Baltimore would fail economically unless political and corporate leaders throughout the region mustered the will to get ahead of the city’s problems.


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“Sheldon believed that Baltimore benefited from a robust philanthropic sector,” Mr. Gallagher said. “He championed investing early with financial and staff resources to nurture regional institutions.”

Mr. Goldseker proposed an affiliation of the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Goldseker Foundation. The two foundations shared a CEO for more than a decade.

“In Sheldon Goldseker, the Baltimore Community Foundation had a visionary and a shepherd,” said Shanaysha Sauls, the foundation’s president. “He was soft-spoken, inspired and well-researched.”

“Sheldon was the heart, brain, and soul of the Goldseker Foundation and of Baltimore philanthropy,” said Tom Wilcox, president of the Baltimore Community Foundation from 2000 to 2018. “We have lost an unassuming, humble, and visionary leader.”

Morgan State University awarded Mr. Goldseker an honorary degree in 2017.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Shelley Abrams; a daughter, Sharna Goldseker, of Baltimore; a sister, Audrey Polt, of Baltimore; and two grandchildren.


Services were held Sunday.

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