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Commentary: Marcus Trauma Center ‘Destiny’ for Philanthropist

Maria Saporta

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Billi and Bernie Marcus

Billi and Bernie Marcus in front of the plaque in their honor (By Renay Blumenthal of the Grady Health Foundation)

Grady Hospital dedicated the Marcus Trauma and Emergency Center on Oct. 5 in recognition of philanthropy of Billi and Bernie Marcus, a co-founder of the Home Depot.

In all, the Marcus couple have given a total of $50 million to Grady, which also went to the establishment of the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center.

The biggest disappointment in Bernie Marcus’ life was when he was accepted to Harvard’s medical school, because his family could not afford the $10,000 tuition.

And he wasn’t eligible for a scholarship because Harvard had already met its 10 percent quota of Jewish students.

Marcus had to set aside his dream of becoming a doctor and settled on becoming a pharmacist.

“I could have been somebody,” Marcus joked with me at the Grady dedication ceremony.

Marcus did become somebody. After being fired from Handy Dan, a home center retailer, Marcus and his colleague, Arthur Blank, decided to launch their own chain of home improvement mega stores.

The chain, Home Depot, was founded in Atlanta in 1978 and the two became billionaires.

But Marcus never forgot his first dream – of saving lives.

He and his wife have donated generously to Marcus Autism Center, Piedmont Hospital, the Shepherd Center and to Grady Hospital.

Marcus described his missed opportunity to become a doctor as “bashert,” which is Yiddish for “destiny.”

His contributions to Grady and the dedication of the Marcus Trauma and Emergency Center has helped fulfill his destiny.

Bernie Marcus was destined to save people’s lives.

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Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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