COLLEGE PARK — Local leaders and residents gathered at The Hotel at The University of Maryland on Jan. 4 for a memorial service for David Hillman, founder, and CEO of Southern Management Corp.
“David was an incredible humanitarian and businessman who also spread goodwill throughout Prince George’s County and the National Capital Region,” County Executive Rushern Baker, III said in a statement.
Hillman, born on August 15, 1942, passed away on Dec. 27, 2017, at the age of 75, after a 15-month battle with cancer.
“David Hillman was a giant in our business community who provided the highest quality of housing for thousands of our residents and neighbors throughout the region,” said Jim Coleman, president, and CEO of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp.
“He represents the best example of power of one, showing how one individual can impact the lives of thousands by providing them with what we all need, and that is a good, safe and warm place to live.
Hillman founded Southern Management in 1981. Today, the company is one of the largest real estate management firms in the region.
It manages 25,000 apartments, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space and three hotels.
“He was good to his employees and grew the company from nothing,” Iannucci said. “He had a vision for what might be.”
One of these hotels includes the four-star Hotel at the University of Maryland, which opened in 2017.
David Iannucci, Assistant Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for economic development, said this hotel “could only have been done with Mr. Hillman’s courage and vision...He was the one who was able to pull off the massive project no one else could do.”
The David H. and Suzanne D. Hillman Family Foundation, named for him and his wife, started the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program in 2006 to provide local college students with scholarships to pursue their interests in entrepreneurship.
“(Hillman) was so involved,” said Gul Branco, director of the program.
She said the students would take tours of his hotel, and he and his staff leadership team would be present to talk with them.
“The whole idea showing to our students that you can be entrepreneur, you can have entrepreneur mindset...it showed how you could take pride in what you do, and you can make your own decisions.”
The students started at Prince George’s Community College or Montgomery College but finished their degrees at the University of Maryland.
Branco said Hillman always attended the graduation ceremonies at the University of Maryland.
“(That) was very precious, and students loved seeing him,” Branco said.
Branco attended the memorial service, said many Hillman students and alum were also there.
“He was an incredible human being, very giving, and I think that he really understood what does it takes to create communities, and to give back,” Branco said. “I think it’s really an incredible legacy to leave behind.”
“David Hillman was a giant in the business community of the State of Maryland, and National Capital Region and his influence will be felt for generations ahead, but, more importantly, the impact on the thousands of young people he helped support and educate will far exceed his legacy as a businessman,” he said. “He will be greatly missed.”