Richard Waitzer

by | Jan 21, 2019 | Obituaries

Norfolk —Richard Waitzer passed peacefully surrounded by his family on January 12, 2019.

Born in Brooklyn in 1932 to the late Murray and Shirley Holtzman Waitzer, the family moved to Washington, DC in 1934 and Norfolk in 1936, where he spent the remainder of his life.

He was educated in the Norfolk Public Schools, graduating from Maury High School in 1950. Always driven and in a hurry, he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University after only three years, with a bachelor of science degree in physics, while flying home weekends to work at his father’s business. He was an ambitious, talented, and highly respected entrepreneur who was wildly successful in three disparate careers working until his last week. Days after graduation, he started working at his family’s business, Murray Wholesale Drug Corporation, managing it from the late 1950s until its sale in 1971. In 1966, with no experience, he started a hugely successful career developing commercial and residential real estate. His initial project was the first office building in Virginia Beach devoted entirely to health care professionals and he subsequently developed all kinds of commercial and residential real estate over 50 years. The many companies he founded, and their affiliates developed thousands of residences and innumerable commercial properties. He pioneered numerous products and financing techniques and loved the development process.

Finally, he began collecting art in the late 1980s, and, through his lust for knowledge, business acumen, and foresight, became a renowned collector of art glass, and modern American art, culminating in his appointment to the acquisitions committee of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His paintings have been featured in some of the most prestigious museums in the world. Drawn to entrepreneurship, he was a mentor to many and helped many start businesses. He never wanted recognition and sought to stay under the radar throughout his careers. While always generous with his time, talent, and financial resources, he preferred to remain behind the scenes.

He chaired the Virginia Symphony Foundation board, and Virginia Symphony board, and served on the board of the Chrysler Museum of Art. He was the consummate problem solver. He reluctantly received many awards including the Governor’s Housing Achievement Award, and, with Leah, the 2015 Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, and the 2018 Philanthropist of the Year from the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Hampton Roads.

A devoted husband, he supported Leah’s incredible journey through life until the end, managing her health issues through his last night. He was predeceased by his parents, and his brothers Edwin and Paul. He is survived by his devoted partner in life Leah, beloved sons Eddie (Kathy), Brad (Terry), and Scott (Debbie), precious grandchildren Melanie, Jon, and Paige Waitzer, brothers and sisters-in-law Jules and Pattie Wainger, Stephen and Liza Wainger, and Valorie Waitzer, and innumerable nieces and nephews. He loved and was loved by many.

A celebration of his life was held at Ohef Sholom Temple. Burial was private. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences may be offered to the family at Donations in his memory to the EVMS Foundation, P.O. Box 5, Norfolk, Virginia 23501-0005, or Norfolk Academy, Development Office, 1585 Wesleyan Drive, Norfolk, Virginia 23502 would be greatly appreciated. He lived fully and well and appreciated his good fortune.