President Donald Trump sent a video message.
“You are a special man, a brilliant man,” Trump said. Calling Marcus a friend, he said, “When I want advice I call you and you have plenty of advice…much of it I actually take, Bernie.”
Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms (left) and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (right) talk with others before the start of Bernie Marcus’s 90th birthday party and fundraiser at the Georgia Aquarium on Sunday.
Home Depot workers also offered video messages, describing how the fruits of Marcus’ entrepreneurship helped them get homes, raise families and put kids through college.
In addition to starting a Fortune 500 company, Marcus and his wife, Billi, have donated nearly $2 billion to philanthropic nonprofits, according to his supporters.
The $117,688,180 raised to honor Marcus includes tens of millions of dollars each for the aquarium, Grady Health System’s Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center, Marcus Autism Center which is now part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the SHARE Military Initiative at the Shepherd Center. Some donors gave to other projects. Much of Blank’s donation will add to Marcus’ effort to create 20 additional centers around the nation to help veterans suffering from brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.
Marcus detailed some of the many needs to help others, from kids with autism to military veterans, who he said serve the nation and then are treated like second-rate citizens when they get out.
Marcus’ actual birthday was May 12, Mother’s Day.
“I was never meant to be,” he said. His mother had planned to stop having children, but a doctor suggested having a baby could help with her rheumatoid arthritis.
Marcus said when he and Blank came to Atlanta in 1978, “we had nothing.”
“Home Depot made us,” he said.
He called Atlanta “the most open-hearted city in the world.”
Marcus now lives primarily in Florida, but also spends part of the year at homes in Atlanta and North Carolina.