NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Melanie Delman, 61, co-owner and president of Lila Delman Real Estate, passed away Sept. 21 after a decade-long battle with breast cancer, the company announced over the weekend.
“In her final days, Melanie was surrounded by close family and loved ones,” the statement reads. “Melanie was a sales visionary and an institution whose impact will be felt in the Rhode Island real estate industry for years to come. Those who have been fortunate enough to work closely with Melanie have lost a friend and an inspiring mentor. Melanie leaves behind a thriving and vibrant company that was a true source of strength for her during her courageous battle. Melanie’s spirit, along with that of her mother Lila, will forever be a part of the foundation of Lila Delman Real Estate.”
Delman began her career under the guidance of her mother, Lila Delman, who founded the company that bears her name in 1964, while living in Narragansett. After her mother’s passing, she took the reins of the company along with her sister, Pamela Delman-Hodnett, and brother-in-law, John Hodnett.
During the younger Delman’s tenure as president, starting in the late 1980s, the company expanded to include six offices, including the flagship location in Narragansett, as well as offices in Newport, Jamestown, Watch Hill, Providence and Block Island.
“Melanie had been in the battle of her life for years, and battling with the utmost strength and dignity,” her sister, Pamela Delman-Hodnett, said in the statement. “We will honor my sister’s memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work she loved so much.”
Delman sold more multi-million dollar properties in Rhode Island than any other Realtor, according to a biography on the company’s website. During her tenure, Lila Delman Real Estate was honored as Christie’s International Real Estate’s Affiliate of the Year.
“As a respected member of the real estate community, Melanie has been featured in numerous panels and publications,” the biography reads. “She has been spotlighted as a power broker in Boston Common magazine and called upon by respected publications for comment … [She] has been honored with numerous awards for her achievements in real estate. Her attention to detail and her vast experience in the high-end market have earned her a reputation that is unsurpassed.”
In terms of philanthropy, Delman founded Lila Cares and launched “50 Weeks of Giving,” a campaign to benefit charitable organizations,” according to the biography.
She also leaves a record of historic preservation. Lila Delman Real Estate was honored in 2010 with an award from Preserve Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission for the restoration of the company’s Narragansett office, which stands near The Towers and dates to the late 19th century. It was once known as The Reading Room, a private men’s club, and it survived a fire in 1900 that decimated much of the area.
“When we embarked on this project, we felt that we were making an investment not only in our company, but also in the community that we live and work in,” Delman told The Independent at the time. “I was particularly conscious of the fact that we are located next to the historic Towers and in a highly visible location on scenic 1A.”
Delman’s leadership also saw the company purchase and restore the historic brick building at the corner of Memorial Boulevard and Bellvue Avenue in Newport for use as an office. The firm received the Doris Duke Award for Historic Preservation for that project, along with honors from Preserve Rhode Island and the preservation commission. Those groups additionally honored the company for its restoration of the former Earle Warehouse in Providence for use as its office in the capital city.
In the company’s statement, Hodnett said the company will “carry on [Melanie’s] legacy by continuing to provide unparalleled service to luxury clientele.”
“Melanie and I have always believed that working collaboratively with skilled sales associates garners the best results for the growing needs of our clients,” he said. “Her story will live on with the exceptional efforts of our seasoned sales team and Lila Delman Real Estate.”
A celebration of Delman’s life was scheduled to take place Sept. 27 from 5-7 p.m. at Lila Delman Real Estate’s flagship office, 41 Ocean Road, Narragansett.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in Delman’s name be made to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer, directed to “The Melanie Delman Grant,” at Susan G. Komen New England, 76 Batterson Park Road, Farmington, CT 06032.