Over 400 gather to honor and celebrate the Hal Glick Award’s third annual recipient, Dr. Leonard Berger
On Nov. 10 of last year, our com-munity made a richly deserved gesture of gratitude when Dr. Leonard “Lenny” Berger was presented with the Hal Glick Distinguished Service Award during a gala held at the Crystal Ballroom of Berger’s own Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City. He is the annual award’s third honoree, having been preceded by Seacrets founder Leighton Moore in 2011 and the award’s namesake in 2010.
“I was very proud watching my husband receive the Hal Glick Award,” said Kari Berger, his wife of seven years. “It is nice to see the community recognize him for all of his contributions, because I know how much he loves living in and giving back to our community.”
A product of the Baltimore City public school system, Berger graduated from Franklin & Marshall College before earning his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In 1962, after a stint in the military, Berger hung out a shingle in Baltimore, where he established a distinguished family-medicine practice until his retirement in 1983.
He migrated to the Eastern Shore and Ocean City that same year, having purchased what was then the Sheraton Hotel. He relaunched it as the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau and with it launched a career in hospitality that would ultimately rival the success he’d enjoyed in medicine.
The dominoes of his business success continued to topple under the weight of his Midas-like touch. He went on to become the owner and president of Marigot Beach Limited Partnership in Ocean City, the Gateway Resort Hotel/Ocean Club and LPB Condo Management in addition to an athletic club, nursing homes and several car dealerships.
But for many among the 400-plus attendees who’d celebrated him that November night, Berger’s shrewdest business move came when he’d founded something called Caltec Cablevision, which would later become known as Comcast. Berger remains the chairman of the Comcast Cablevision of Maryland Limited Partnership.
The event, which was emceed by longtime Baltimore newscaster Richard Sher, included a litany of Berger’s prodigious accomplishments, yet it was his humanitarian and philanthropic efforts that won the lion’s share of praise. His generosity over the years has been extended to institutions like Temple Bat Yam, Peninsula Regional Medical Center and Atlantic General Hospital — which will all will share $70,000 that was raised at the gala — in addition to countless others.
“It was certainly a great honor and privilege to receive the Hal Glick Distinguished Service Award and to follow in the footsteps of its previous recipients, Hal Glick and Leighton Moore, both of whom have been so important to this community,” Berger told Coastal Style. “I would like to thank them both for their good work and their friendship. I also would like to thank everyone who participated in the event and made contributions to its deserving beneficiaries.”
Perhaps the evening’s most poignant moment occurred when it came time for one local legend to pay homage to another, which is what happened when Leighton Moore took the mic. Moore recounted how he and Berger first met in the mid-’80s, when Moore owned the Gateway Motel. Berger had approached Moore about buying the Gateway, which he ultimately did on the strength of a handshake.
Emphasizing Berger’s integrity throughout the process, Moore went on to tell a story about the fragile infancy of Seacrets, which, Moore graciously conceded, may never have happened were it not for his competitor across the street, a retired physician from Baltimore.
“Because of overspending, I ran out of money,” Moore had said of his historic creation. “The bank was going to take Seacrets, no questions, no doubt. I had been underneath buildings all winter, putting foundations under buildings in Montego Bay to try and get enough money together. Well, I came up short. I had worked hard and somebody was watching — somebody who paid too much at the time to me because of his love of the Ocean Club and the Gateway.
“So I [went] to Dr. Berger, and he said, ‘I know,’” Moore continued. “He didn’t even make me ask. He said, ‘You are short $60,000, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘yes,’ and he offered the check. Without Dr. Berger, I would have never given anything because I would be broke. That’s why I won last year’s [Glick] award, and that’s what he is. Dr. Berger is more like a dad than my dad, and I love him. Thank you, Lenny.”
In terms of the future, Berger told Coastal Style that he intends to continue his philanthropic efforts as well as spend more time with his wife and their family.
“Of all that I’ve done, I am most proud that I was able to achieve my lifelong dream of being a family physician who practiced and served the community for over 20 years in Baltimore County,” he said. “It was not only extremely rewarding to me but also served as the launchpad for the charity work, philanthropy and community service that followed for decades thereafter. It also helped me to raise my family and instill those same values in them.”