Melvyn J. Estrin is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Human Service Group, Inc. trading as Estrin International (1983-present) and is Chief Executive Officer of University Research Co., LLC. Mr. Estrin is a Director of ChemLink, LLC; Eagle Hospitality LLC; Armed Forces Lodging LLC and HHB Inc. Mr. Estrin has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of two Fortune 500 companies and has been a principal in numerous business enterprises. Mr. Estrin has been appointed by the President as a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Mr. Estrin was a Commissioner of the National Capital Planning Commission (Jan. 1997-Dec. 2000). He also served as a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania (Oct. 1986-1991), has been a director of Washington Gas Light Company since 1991, a director of WGL Holdings since November 2000 and serves as Chairman of the Human Resources Committee.
Although he grew up in privilege as the son of a prominent Washington businessman, Mr. Estrin amassed a fortune largely on his own. He returned to the District after graduating in 1964 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of business with the hope of joining his father’s wholesale drug business.
Mr. Estrin and a partner cobbled together $16,000 to convert an old barbershop on Pennsylvania Avenue into a disco, Tomfoolery, that became a sensation during the era of the frug and watusi.
In 1971, he acquired a $2 million stake in American Health Services, an operator of general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes. Less than a decade later, he sold his interest for $36 million. Mr. Estrin and a frequent business partner, Abbey J. Butler of New York, made news for their corporate takeover in the early 1990s of National Intergroup Inc., a struggling Pittsburgh-based conglomerate reportedly valued at $5.5 billion. National Intergroup was essentially a holding company that included National Steel, one of the nation’s largest steelmakers, and the Foxmeyer wholesale pharmaceutical unit. He and Butler were co-chairmen and co-chief executives of the Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain when it filed for bankruptcy in 2001, citing a slowing economy and increased competition.
Mr. Estrin also made a mark as an investor in Tony Award-nominated Broadway shows..
His late father, David Estrin, was founder and chief executive of Spectro Industries, one of the largest wholesale drug suppliers on the East Coast. It later became part of McKesson Corp.
Melvyn Estrin graduated in 1960 from the private Perkiomen School in Pennsburg, Pa. Besides his Wharton degree, he received a master’s degree in business administration from American University in 1969.
Mr. Estrin was a trustee of Ford’s Theatre in Washington and a trustee emeritus of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was also a formidable collector of modern art, including pieces by Andy Warhol.
He was a former commissioner of the National Capital Planning Commission and a director of Washington Gas Light Co. His memberships included Woodmont Country Club in Rockville and the Economic Club of Washington.
Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Suellen Goldstein Estrin of Washington; two children, Brandon Estrin of Venice, Calif., and Shannon Estrin Rosoff of Potomac, Md.; two sisters, Wilma Bernstein of Washington and Mickey Lemer of Chevy Chase, Md.; and five grandchildren.