Harold Rothstein (1922-2014) moved from Boston to Hartford with his family when he was 16. Walking by the Hartford Armory shortly after arriving in the city, he spontaneously joined the Connecticut National Guard (no one asked him his age). In February 1941 his unit was federalized and later deployed to combat in the Pacific theater as part of the 169th Infantry. Rothstein was injured at Guadalcanal and eventually hospitalized in Atlantic City, NJ. It was there he met Marilyn Feinberg, whom he married in 1944.

After his Army service, Rothstein began delivering flour for his father’s business, and because it was difficult to find someone to deliver large quantities, he bought his own trucks. This eventually became Park Trucking Company, one of the region’s major trucking and warehouse firms. When he happened by an empty lot for sale in Hartford’s North End that was zoned for 60 apartments, Rothstein began his career as a real estate developer.

A general contractor since the early 1960s, he began applying for federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants to build affordable housing. He led development projects in the North End of Hartford, providing safe, quality housing for low-income families while training minority contractors whom he then hired. When he encountered skilled workers, he mentored them and helped them set up their own businesses. He founded the Utility Development Corporation in 1967 and was the general partner in Park Associates and Greater Hartford Realty Corporation. He was known as a principled builder who kept his affordable properties in good condition. Rothstein worked extensively with the Greater Hartford Housing Development Fund to further improve neighborhoods, and with the Urban League. For instance, he contributed $100,000 to fund a community center that included employment and enrichment programs after the completion of a housing project in Clay Hill.

Rothstein was a generous philanthropist, seeing it as part of his role to meet the needs of those around him. Scholarships at the University of Hartford, Chabad’s Benet Rothstein Jewish Center in Glastonbury, and the Urban League were some of the ways he impacted the community.

Learn more about Rothstein’s life and legacy by watching “The Heart in Hartford