Last week, the Seattle Symphony lost a dear friend in Jack Benaroya, who passed away at the age of 90. On Monday, May 14, his memorial service was held in Benaroya Hall’s S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium and featured music and remarks from several of Jack’s friends and family members. The below remarks, shared by Jack’s friend and colleague Joel Benoliel, attest to Jack’s vision and his tremendous power to unify.
Everyone in this room understands how fitting it is for this memorial to be held in the building that bears Jack’s name. It is a lasting tribute to his foresight, his leadership and his generosity that Seattle has a first class venue for its Symphony Orchestra.
But, you may not realize another reason that it is so fitting and appropriate for us to be in this hall. That is because Jack was himself a master conductor.
Yes, as a real estate developer, he was a maestro. I know because I played in his orchestra. I sat in my seat as one of his principal performers. Next to me sat his architect, his engineer, his leasing agent, his real estate brokers, his landscape architect, his construction contractor, his accountant, his property managers, his maintenance crew, his project managers, his construction supervisors, his tenants, his bankers and his mortgage lenders. All of us had an instrument to play in Jack’s symphony orchestra.
Jack was not titled or accredited in any of those “instruments” himself. But, with his vision and his leadership, with his keen intellect and unmatched work ethic, he challenged each of us to play to a higher standard. He made me a better lawyer and a better real estate developer. He made the architect a better architect, and so on. Together, with rapt attention to his Cross mechanical pencil baton, we made beautiful music together for many years. We created great spaces that worked on all three levels: esthetics, function and financial success. These are the three legs to the stool that all commercial real estate sits on. If one was out of balance with the others, we couldn’t make the beautiful music together that he envisioned and that he heard in his head when he spoke to us and described what wanted.
For me, as one of the maestro’s many musicians, I can always close my eyes and hear the sweet music that we made together, and Jack will forever be the conductor, making eye contact with each one of us, one at a time as he surveys the orchestra. We know he is asking us to be our very best. And, we will always do our very best for him.
Today, as we listen to the music of remembrance, think of Jack waving his baton. He was our maestro.
The Seattle Symphony dedicates its performances of Mozart’s Requiem on Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, to the memory of Jack Benaroya. Tickets available here.