Marc E. Berson, real estate developer, entrepreneur, attorney and philanthropist, died on December 2, 2023 at age 79 after a short illness. Berson is best known for his dedication to the rebirth and revitalization of the city of Newark, NJ - his hometown. He was the former chairman of the RWJ Barnabas Health System as well as Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and he was a founding trustee of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He was proudest of his role as a co-founder of Opportunity Project, Inc., the Millburn-based non-profit that provides programs and support for survivors of brain injury.
In 1981, Berson founded The Fidelco Group, an owner-developer of residential, commercial, retail and industrial properties in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Ohio. Recognized for its diverse portfolio of properties, Fidelco is a leader in redevelopment as well as new construction projects, with those completed or under development encompassing millions of square feet of property.
Under Mr. Berson’s leadership, Fidelco broadened its portfolio to include noteworthy transactions such as the acquisition of Modernfold, Inc. in 1985 which he sold to Maiden Lane Associates in 1990; and the 1986 acquisition of National Car Rental Systems, Inc., which at the time was the largest car rental system in the world. National was sold to General Motors Corporation in 1992. With the acquisition of Kirker Enterprises, Inc. in 1995 until its sale to RPM Industries in 2012, Fidelco's primary corporate focus was the custom contract manufacturing of nail enamel and other cosmetic products for major brands worldwide.
Berson was a generous philanthropist who was dedicated to serving the community through his involvement in numerous nonprofit and community organizations. He was a founder of NJPAC who proudly viewed the establishment of the Arts Center as an important step in the revitalization of Newark. As chair of NJPAC’s real estate committee, Berson identified the Seth Boyden property in Newark as a potential movie studio site. In 2022, NJPAC began work on what will be the new Lionsgate film and TV studio. The project will bring hundreds of jobs to his home city and will help New Jersey expand its presence as a production hub nationwide. Noted philanthropist Ray Chambers said of his close friend and business partner of many decades, “Marc has singularly changed the appearance and function of Newark’s downtown. There is no one whom I respect more than Marc.”
Equally important to Berson was his quarter-century commitment to healthcare in New Jersey. During his tenure as chair of the RWJ Barnabas Health Board of Trustees, he facilitated the merger and integration of Barnabas Health with Robert Wood Johnson Health System, as well as its partnership with Rutgers University. The result was the creation of New Jersey's largest academic health care system. Prior to that, he served as chairman of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.
Mr. Berson was also a strong advocate for and supporter of local educational and youth-focused causes, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark and the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. In his family’s honor, The Randi & Marc E. Berson Learning Center was formally dedicated at the Zoo in 2015.
A graduate of the Rutgers School of Law School in Newark, he received his JD in 1968, preceded by his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, New Brunswick in 1965. Soon after graduating from Rutgers Law, Berson built a law firm where he practiced for 20 years, paving the way for his later success. His business ventures will continue under the leadership of his family, who have worked closely with him under his guidance.
Born in 1944 in Newark, New Jersey, he was the son of Norman Berson and Ethel (Brief) Berson. He was a proud 1962 alumnus of Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ. Mr. Berson is survived by his wife, Randi, of 41 years; sister, Jane (Berson) Wisner; children, Lora Hersh (Jeff Hersh), Gary Berson (Ronald Valdez), Kerri Berson Levine (Jared Levine); and six grandchildren.
A funeral service for Marc will be held Monday, December 4, 2023 at 12:30 PM at Temple B'nai Abraham, 300 East Northfield Road, Livingston, New Jersey 07039.