Arthur M. Greenbaum
By Joshua Burd
It was a friendship that lasted for 27 years. But for Bob Goldsmith, it wasn’t long enough.
And there are countless others who would say the same when it came to Arthur Greenbaum.
“Everyone I’ve known in that 27-year period, no one has ever said anything less than ‘extraordinary’ or ‘exceptional’ about Arthur Greenbaum,” said Goldsmith, a partner with Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP. “It’s really remarkable — he was held in the utmost esteem by anyone who he ever intersected with.”
Greenbaum, a beloved figure and fixture in New Jersey’s real estate and legal communities, died Tuesday after a distinguished law career that spanned more than 60 years. He was 91.
Greenbaum’s passing was announced Wednesday by Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP, which he co-founded with his late brother and father. For both the Woodbridge-based firm and the state’s real estate sector, it was the loss of an industry icon who was widely known for both his professional achievements and an endearing, affable personality.
“A founding member of our firm and a seminal figure in New Jersey’s real estate and legal communities for over six decades, Arthur and his late brother Robert S. Greenbaum joined their father William L. Greenbaum to establish one of New Jersey’s most prominent and enduring business law practices and a family legacy,” the firm said in the announcement.
“Arthur Greenbaum was cherished by his beloved family and by all who had the honor of working by his side at the firm which bears his name. He will be deeply missed.”
Arthur M. Greenbaum, a Newark native and World War II veteran, focused his practice on real estate brokerage and trade association law, representing many of New Jersey’s top builders and developers. According to a bio on the firm’s website, he argued nine cases before the state Supreme Court and spent more than 40 years as counsel to the trade association known as New Jersey REALTORS.
Along with his brother, who died in 2012, Greenbaum was credited with growing the firm into a real estate law powerhouse. He was set to receive a lifetime achievement award next month from NAIOP’s New Jersey chapter and was the first recipient of the Leadership Excellence Award from the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University in 1994.
Peter S. Reinhart, director of the institute, called Greenbaum “one of the truly great leaders of the real estate industry and business community in New Jersey, and a most highly respected attorney. To many, including myself, Arthur was much more than a respected colleague.
“He was a mentor, a friend, a teacher, an ethicist and one of the last of the generation of leaders that shaped the New Jersey legal and real estate world,” Reinhart wrote in an announcement from the Kislak Real Estate Institute. “We will always remember his humor, his captivating eloquence, his love of the English language, and his passion for people.
“He was everybody’s best friend and always brought a smile to your face when in his presence. We will miss him.”
Goldsmith, who co-chairs the redevelopment and land use department at Greenbaum Rowe, recalled that “there was a closeness from almost day one” when he met Greenbaum and started with the firm in 1990. And he noted that, as a rule, he doesn’t go out for lunch, but “I would never turn down an opportunity to go out to lunch with Arthur.”
Thousands of lunches later, he said Wednesday that he took “great pride and honor in the fact that I had an intimate relationship with a man of that stature and wisdom.” Greenbaum managed to be both larger than life and unassuming at the same time, he said.
“He was kind and fair and respected everyone he intersected with, from the most significant people to the people who were at a different point in their lives,” Goldsmith said. “He was a mentor to anyone who wanted to approach him and he was a wealth of knowledge, insights, experience and human nature.”
Goldsmith also called it “heartwarming” to watch Greenbaum interact with his wife Dorothy, adding that he also “had the greatest of pride” in his children. And even in recent months, he said, “Arthur had an appreciation of how wonderful his life was.”
Greenbaum was also “profoundly proud of the reputation of the firm,” a sentiment that is obvious from a quote that appears atop his bio on the Greenbaum Rowe website.
“It’s important that clients have faith in you, and great communication is the key to building that trust,” Greenbaum wrote. “For me, the reputation our firm has built, and the diversity of our practice, is a great source of personal pride. Do a job worth signing your name to — that’s the only standard that counts.”
Funeral arrangements are private. The law firm said the details of a public memorial service will be announced shortly. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be directed to Monmouth University and Monmouth Medical Center.