When word of Marc Berson’s passing went around the state this weekend, some of New Jersey’s most powerful players — starting with the governor — expressed their condolences and admiration for a beloved son of Newark.
Frank Giantomasi, a name partner at Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi who considered Berson a friend and a client, said his true impact was found behind the scenes — away from the spotlight.
“I got a text from someone who said, ‘I never really knew him that well, but when he found out that somebody in my family was sick, he called me and said, “We’ll get the best doctors,”’” Giantomasi said the text read. “And he did.
“That was the epitome of Marc. It wasn’t just the big stuff he did — his efforts at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center or Newark Beth (Israel Medical Center) or so many other places — but the little stuff. He truly cared about all people on an individual basis. He’d find out about people that needed help and reach out and help them. He was an unsung hero.”
Berson, who died Saturday at 79, was well-known in the business community for his efforts at Fidelco Group, which he founded in 1981.
Giantomasi said he’ll be remembered for turning that success into a win for the city of his birth.
“He wanted to turn that success into a beneficial thing for Newark,” he said. “He really thought that part of his mission in life was to be a benefactor for the city. He was born here, he loved it here — and he really viewed it as part of his obligation of his success, to support and make a better place.”
Part of that obligation was to get people to join him in his efforts.
That’s the way Angelo Genova, a name partner at Genova Burns in Newark, will remember him.
“Fifteen years ago, my client and friend Marc Berson challenged me, saying, ‘If you genuinely believe in Newark, then make Newark your business home,’” Genova said.
Genova did just that.
“I jumped in with two feet, abandoned the Essex business suburbs and became Marc’s partner at 494 Broad St., an anchor, along with Audible, for the revitalization of downtown’s ‘North End.’
“I have since never looked back.
“Marc’s enthusiasm and optimism for all things Newark was contagious. He never flinched in his dedication to the city of his birth and was among its best salesmen, whether for the NJPAC, the Beth or the reinvention of the now-Harriet Tubman Park.”
Or One Theater Square.
John Schreiber, the CEO of NJPAC and the master developer of One Theater Square, the multifamily project that sits across the street from the venue, credited Berson for helping him get it done.
“Without Marc Berson, One Theater Square doesn’t get to the finish line,” Schreiber said. “He willed it to completion. He just felt so strongly about us and our mission and about Newark.”
Angelo said Berson leaves a legacy that few can match.
“This was a man that truly knew who he was at his core and never forgot his roots,” he said. “Despite his larger-than-life successes, he possessed great humility. Marc was a giver.
Read more from ROI-NJ:
“He leaves a legacy of business and legal acumen few can rival.”
Giantomasi said he would put Berson among the founding fathers of the new Newark, along with Ray Chambers.
Not that Berson would want the recognition.
“He didn’t want the spotlight — and, even when he did the big things, he always shared the spotlight,” he said. “He just cared about people individually. And he cared about Newark more than anything.
“He didn’t have an ego. He was selfless. That’s who he was — an amazingly humble human being.”