Melvin Greenberg, 86, of Alford, co-founder of Berkshires Bounty, made the world a better place
Melvin Greenberg, 86, of Alford died Thursday, June 27, at Fairview Commons. Born Dec. 26, 1932, in New York City, the first son of Irving and Ethel Greenberg, he grew up in the city, where he attended public schools and was a graduate of Lafayette High School. Mel attended City College where he studied electrical engineering.
Mel was founder and CEO of Aluminum Louvre Corporation in Plainview, Long Island, along with his partner, Frank Marchart. After transplanting from Great Neck to the Berkshires in 1993, he enjoyed a second career as a real estate agent and appraiser, developing, in partnership with his wife, Ellen, the thriving brokerage Alford Farms Realty with its signature llama farm and logo.
Mel was a passionate advocate and activist for social justice for his entire life. From his early years at progressive summer camp Wo-Chi-Ca to joining the courageous volunteers registering African-American voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer, his support and fundraising for SNCC to his work with the Vietnam Peace movement, Mel demonstrated with words and actions the Jewish principle of tikkun olam (making the world a better place).
After arriving in the Berkshires, Mel and Ellen joined the young and growing Reform Jewish community of Hevreh, eventually becoming a driving force in the congregation’s social action committee, an indispensable volunteer for the URJ Eisner Summer Camp, and a member of Hevreh’s Legacy Circle.
Although he loved the physical beauty and cultural amenities of his adopted home, Mel became aware of and very concerned about the number of families suffering from food insecurity in the community. Not one to let a problem go unaddressed, Mel launched a series of “food rescue” programs. The first of these, Berkshires Bounty, was started with help from his dear friend Phyllis Weiss. For 25 years, Mel, along with many helpers and his well-worn pickup, drove to the markets, bakeries and cafes of Great Barrington each week collecting food donations and distributing them to a variety of organizations including the People’s Pantry, WIC and Railroad Street Youth Project. For the past 15 years, he has also worked closely with Breaking Bread Kitchen to provide weekly dinners to those in need. Finally, realizing the difficulties that many senior citizens in the Berkshires face due to physical isolation, Mel also organized, in conjunction with the Great Barrington senior center, a phone-call, check-in and transport service for seniors living on their own.
Mel loved animals and enjoyed working with his hands. He got much joy working with his Morgan horses in Vermont, and doing daily chores with his beloved Bouviers, Jackie and Cowboy. He also loved singing and listening to folk music, particularly socially conscious troubadours including the Weavers and Joan Baez (and played the banjo for many years). Running and skiing were his go-to sports and he was an enthusiastic chef.
Mel is survived by his wife, Ellen; his four children: David, Josh, Toby and Jill; and three siblings: Noah, Anna and Rachel. He also leaves several nieces, nephews and grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother Saul.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday, July 2, at 2:30 p.m. at Hevreh, 270 State Road, Great Barrington MA 01230. Memorial gifts in Mel’s memory can be made to Berkshire-Bounty or HospiceCare in the Berkshires c/o FINNERTY & STEVENS FUNERAL HOME, 426 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230. To send remembrances to the family, go to www.finnertyandstevens.com.