Berton E. Korman, 87, formerly of Fort Washington, a real estate developer and philanthropist, died Wednesday, July 1, of heart failure at his vacation home in Harvey Cedars, N.J.
In 1958, Mr. Korman, his brother, Leonard, and a cousin, Steven, formed the Korman Corp., a real estate development firm operating in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
In 1963, Mr. Korman was named president and CEO, in charge of construction operations. Under his tenure, the firm acquired land on which it built residential communities and apartment buildings.
An early project was the Plaza Apartments, a 305-unit building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City.
Another was an urban renewal project of low-rise houses, town homes, two shopping centers, and hotels at 84th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard in Eastwick, a community near Philadelphia International Airport. Later, apartments were added.
Shortly after gambling was legalized in New Jersey in 1976, Mr. Korman joined with Resorts International to build condos and townhouses for casino workers near Atlantic City. Another partnership with GlaxoSmithKline and the Philadelphia Electric Co. produced Franklintown, a mixed-use community of high-rise apartments and office buildings in Center City.
In 1968, Korman completed the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem. “This was at a time when shopping malls were new and exciting regional gathering places,” the family said in a statement.
Under Mr. Korman’s guidance, the firm developed Salem Harbour, a resort community in Andalusia, Bucks County, with a 60-boat marina, golf course, clubhouse, pool, tennis club, and a beach along the Delaware River.
A similar resort community was developed in Huntingdon Valley with indoor tennis facilities, a clubhouse, spa, and golf course. Both projects are rental communities.
In 1996, Mr. Korman became chairman of a spin-off company, Korman Residential Properties Inc. His son John P. Korman is the CEO, and son James S. Korman is the president of the Blue Bell firm. He never retired but “put us in charge,” John said.
His son remembered Mr. Korman as honest and forthright. “He was really good at giving advice whether about business or personal. People really respected his advice,” John Korman said.
The son of Matilda and Max William Korman, Mr. Korman was born in Philadelphia and raised in the suburbs. He graduated from Cheltenham High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1956, he married Sallie Gottlieb. They had three children.
The Korman family has maintained a tradition of philanthropy for four generations. “That was one thing my dad taught us,” son John said. “It’s not an option. It’s what we do.”
When his father died in 1966, Mr. Korman was invited to join the board of trustees of Albert Einstein Medical Center. Two years later, he joined the boards of Germantown Academy and the Franklin Institute.
He cochaired the board of overseers for the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Design and was on the board of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society.
At the time of his death, Mr. Korman was a board member of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“He believed that a vibrant and healthy art museum was vitally important to the future of our city,” said Timothy Rub, director and CEO of the museum. “He was generous to a fault, both with his time and with his resources, and saw participation as a civic responsibility.”
Several years ago, he and his wife moved to Jupiter, Fla., where he served on the boards of the Jupiter Medical Center and the Palm Beach Cultural Council.
The two were recipients of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Besides his wife and two sons, Mr. Korman is survived by a daughter, Carolyn Korman Jacobs; eight grandchildren; and a brother and sister.