Lou Zagarino.

Lou Zagarino, who spent a half-century working as a hotelier, restaurateur and philanthropist in what eventually developed into the BWI Business District, died Sept. 7. He was 73.

A former chairman of the BWI Business Partnership board of directors and its Foundation, the native of Buffalo, New York strove to help build the success of the region, its places and its people. He was often sought after for his strategic guidance, which often resulted in the development of decades-long relationships with the various organizations he supported.

Using his North Linthicum properties ― The Comfort Inn, The Rose Restaurant and The Sleep Inn — as springboards for his philanthropic efforts, Zagarino also served as chair of the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center Board of Directors and member of the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors. He was honored by UM BWMC in 2022 for his 20 years of leadership and accomplishments during a period of complex and significant change for the institution.

Lou Zagarino, center, received the Sam Heffner Award in 2019 from the BWI Business Partnership. At left, Sam Minnitte, left, and at right, Gina Stewart, executive director of the BWI Business Partnership. (BWI Business Partnership photo)

He also served as chairman and member of the Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Board of Directors, and as chairman of the Hospice of the Chesapeake Board of Directors (among other leadership positions). In addition, Zagarino raised more than $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by holding annual golf tournaments.

His dedication to serving others also led to his receiving two Fort Meade Commander’s Awards for programs that aided soldiers traveling through BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport; the Partnership’s Sam Heffner Legacy Award; and induction into the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Chamber’s Business Hall of Fame.