Henry S. Belber II, 88, of Malvern, a custom-home builder who developed several communities in Chester County and on the Main Line, died Thursday, Dec. 25, at Paoli Memorial Hospital from complications of pneumonia.
Mr. Belber, known as "Hank," spent six decades in the building business, at first under the tutelage of his father, Edmond, and then as president of Trico Construction, where he was responsible for such communities as Rabbit Run Road and Kings Circle in Malvern, and Sugar Knoll in Devon.
He loved his work, drawing inspiration from the work of the architect R. Brognard Okie, renowned for designing grand Pennsylvania farmhouses.
Mr. Belber "was a ground-up builder," said his daughter, Karen. "He had to dig dirt for his father. He knew the nuts and bolts of the business, and he was involved in every aspect of design and build."
Mr. Belber was raised in Lower Merion and graduated from Lower Merion High School, where he was a point guard on the basketball team that won championships in 1942 and 1943. He served as a signalman in the Navy, then attended Gettysburg College, where he was also a standout basketball player.
Mr. Belber was a longtime member of the Main Line Builders Association and was honored as that organization's builder of the year on multiple occasions.
He was a driving force behind the Applebrook Golf Club in Malvern, where he was a founding member and was president until earlier this year. Along with his son, Henry S. III, known as "Rick," Mr. Belber built Applebrook's clubhouse.
Mr. Belber and Nancy, his wife of 30 years, loved traveling, and often spent time with family and friends in Dorset, Vt., and Hobe Sound, Fla. He loved to ski, play tennis, and golf.
"He was an affable guy," Karen Belber said. "He had a ready smile, was a very charismatic man and always eager to help."
He loved to laugh. "He would crack himself up so much, he'd be in tears, just telling his own jokes," his daughter said. "He was a real pistol."
In addition to his daughter, wife, and son, he is survived by son Ross; stepsons Geoffrey and Robert Worden; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His former wife, Lois Trottere Belber, also survives. A son, Terrence William, died in 1989.
A memorial service is set for Wednesday, Dec. 31, at St. David's Episcopal Church, 763 S. Valley Forge Rd., Wayne, with a reception following at the Applebrook Golf Club. Burial will be private.
Memorial donations can be made to Gettysburg College, Hank Belber Scholarship Fund, Box 423, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325.