In fall 2017, Syracuse University‘s Martin J. Whitman School of Management honored Gerald T. Halpin ’50 (A&S) (Feb. 15, 1923- Aug. 14, 2017), with the Orange Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Halpin, who passed away shortly after learning of the recognition, was a Syracuse University Life Trustee who had an exceptionally successful career as a real estate developer and entrepreneur.
A native of Pennsylvania, Halpin earned a bachelor’s in economics from Syracuse University through the GI Bill after four years of service as a Naval Seabee in the South Pacific during World War II. He then attended Georgetown Law School before leaving school to work to become the 10th employee of Atlantic Research Corporation (ARC), the primary developer of rocket propellant for the U.S. military and space programs.
In 1960, Halpin co-founded Commonwealth Capital Inc. (now West Group, Inc.) and began acquiring real estate in Northern Virginia, where he and his partners started the innovative development of the Greater Washington, D.C. area, acquiring and developing significant properties. Halpin also founded and served as president of more than 100 other related and non-related corporations and partnerships.
Halpin was founding director of Bell Atlantic Corporation (now Verizon) and director of Crestar Bank (now SunTrust Bank). He also served on the Fairfax County, Virginia, Economic Development Authority and the Virginia Governor’s Advisory Board on Industrial Development. After purchasing property on the border of Grand Teton National Park and opening a high-end guest ranch, he became founding board chair for the park’s Foundation and spearheaded the effort to raise $65 million for its Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center.
An inductee of the Washington Business Hall of Fame, Halpin received
numerous service and industry awards, including the National Association of Industrial and Office Park’s President’s Award and the Ernst and Young Greater Washington Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
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