The city mourns the death of hotelier and philanthropist Maurice Rollins

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To know him was to love him immensely.

Not for his mundane accomplishments in building his Belleville-based Journey’s End Corporation hotel empire or for erecting thousands of townhouses and icons such as The Anchorage under the Rollins Construction banner.

On the contrary, developer and philanthropist Mr. Maurice Rollins held a special place in the heart of his city for his warm and approachable manner, as evidenced by morning conversations on Java, looking through branded round glasses with friends and relatives. patrons of his favorite Century Place cafe overlooking the city four corners of downtown.

The soft-spoken Titan hotelier was a regular at the cafe where he enjoyed quiet breaks from his second-floor office – the international headquarters of Journey’s End Corporation – and took the pulse of his beloved community.

Still lucid and concerned about the mental health of his city, Mr. Rollins died Thursday after struggling with depression all his life.

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He was 94 years old.

Mr. Rollins, one of Quinte’s most respected community builders in every sense of the word, has been a steadfast supporter of community charities throughout his seven-decade career, always ready with a checkbook in hand for help.

His endless financial support has reached millions of dollars for groups helping vulnerable people in the city as well as his tireless support for the local artistic community of Quinte.

He raised over $ 2 million for the United Way through his 2008 creation of the Maurice Rollins Leadership Challenge for United Way Hastings Prince Edward.

And suddenly in the late 1990s, Mr. Rollins donated $ 1 million to the Quinte Cultural Center campaign to turn the former Belleville Collegiate Institute and Vocational School (BCIVS) into a plaque. revolving arts.

Volunteer and Information Quinte was also supported by the Maurice Rollins Community Leadership For Youth Fellowships.

Profits from his biography “The Incredible Voyage of Maurice Rollins” were donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Mr. Rollins was also known for his personal visits to seniors at two retirement homes he owned, the Carriage House Retirement Residence in Oshawa as well as the Victoria Retirement Living Residence in Cobourg.

No obituaries were released Friday at press time.

Mr. Rollins was predeceased by his late wife Marilyn and son Mark.

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis said Rollins was an actor who made a real difference in the lives of residents and got things done locally and across North America.

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“Throughout the history of Belleville and the region, Mr. Maurice Rollins has been a community builder, supporting many community projects. He was a tireless advocate for the region, ”Ellis said in an interview on Friday.

“Mr. Rollins will certainly be missed. We are saddened to learn of the passing of an incredible member of our community. He was dedicated. His philanthropy and generosity in supporting countless charities and fundraising initiatives will be greatly missed. everyone, ”Ellis said.

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, said a big hole was left in the community with Mr. Rollins’ death.

“I got to know the family well through my work at Quinte Broadcasting and then as a member of the provincial parliament for the area,” Smith said, adding that he was so “committed to the Bay Area. Fifth”.

“I have gotten to know Mr. Rollins better over the years. What an intelligent, kind and humble person he was, given the giant he was in our area, ”Smith said on a phone call.

Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk said the loss of Mr. Rollins was deeply felt given his support in many corners of the city’s daily life.

The Canadian flag at City Hall was half-masted Friday to remember Mr. Rollins’ legacy of kindness.

“It’s a great loss, but it would have been an even greater loss if we had never known Maurice and hadn’t been from our community,” Panciuk told The Intelligencer. “He certainly lived his life to the fullest and made a difference not only to the people of Belleville, but to people everywhere he did business.”

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“Incredibly accomplished person, demonstrated a keen business sense while being open about struggles with their own mental health and depression. Then also someone who has donated significant money to so many important causes that have changed the lives of others, ”Panciuk said.

“We are truly grateful to have the chance to have him here in our city. He started a business that not only built around 9,000 residential units in our city, including landmarks like The Anchorage and others, ”the mayor said.

Mr. Rollins also paved the way for many successful people now working in the construction industry who have been guided by Rollins Construction, he said.

Founded in 1978 by Rollins, Journey’s End Corporation’s hotel management and franchising company began building two-story hotels in cities across Ontario and over the years has grown to over 100 franchisees as the company stretched across the northeastern United States.

The company was renamed Unihost in 1997, then was taken over by Westmont Hospitality Group in a takeover in 1999.

“A lot of people in our construction business owe their beginnings to Maurice Rollins. They worked for him as engineers, architects, building foremen. They now own their own businesses and now they all contribute through the Quite Home Builders’ Association and others.

“The impact of Maurice Rollins cannot be overstated. We don’t know how much he touched people’s lives and for that we really celebrate his life, we celebrate that he was from Belleville and we are happy that we got to know him, ”said the mayor.

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At the end of last year, Brandi Hodge, Executive Director of United Way HPE, congratulated Mr. Rollins on his generosity to his organization.

“Mr. Rollins’ Generosity has generated over $ 2 million in donations over the past 11 years,” she said, adding “we are especially grateful that he not only committed $ 125,000 personally in this challenge, but that it took into account the precarious year we find ourselves in by expanding the program. Donors wishing to have their donation matched are encouraged to call us for more information or visit our website. .

In September 2020, Rollins expanded the program to include the Friends of the United Way. The new Maurice Rollins Friends and Leaders Challenge matched new leadership gifts as it traditionally did, and started matching new gifts of $ 500 or more at $ 0.50 per dollar.

Mr. Rollin’s philanthropy has helped the community support of Centraide which helps one in four people in the local community through 41 agencies and over 62 programs.

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