Subscribe To our E-Newsletter
'As Long as You Can Laugh, You'll Be Okay'
Born Rose Kaplan, she was a lifelong Philadelphian who lived above her parents' general store at 22nd and South streets. She started her retail career selling ribbons as a young child.
She worked for Fishman and Tobin, a children's clothing manufacturer, after she graduated from high school. Fickler continued to work there through her college years at Temple University, where she earned her undergraduate degree. She met her husband when they both attended the university's night school.
After her marriage in 1950, Fickler lived with her husband's mother over the family's clothing business. She worked side by side with her husband and her in-laws, and continued to do so when they started a wholesale clothing business.
"My mother loved retail, especially the interaction with the customers," said son David Fickler. "When my wife Judy and I had our kids, Jeremy and Noah, she was shocked by the cost of designer-labeled children's clothing, but she still bought them for her grandsons."
"She cared about business, but family was always the most important thing to her," said daughter Arlene Fickler. "She taught us to not only love but respect one another; to rely on one another, and to share the good times with the bad. The message conveyed to my brother and me was: 'After we're gone, you will have each other.'
"Both my parents emphasized the importance of commitment to the Jewish community and charitable giving," she continued, "and instilled those values in us."
Fickler's love of family also included her 10 nephews and nieces, and their children.
She was active in the Sisterhood of Congregation Adath Shalom at Marshall and Ritner streets, and in the Southwark Elementary School PTA.
Rose and Isadore Fickler moved to Overbrook Hills in 1970, where they joined Congregation Beth T'fillah. They retired in 1985, wintering in Florida and spending summers in Margate, N.J.
Active in the Wednesday Travel Club at the Jewish Commun-ity Centers' Kaiserman Branch in Wynnewood, they arranged trips for retirees, which always had some Jewish content, wherever they went.
Passover was just about the most important time of the year for her mother, according to Arlene Fickler: "My mother's two brothers had died in their 50s, and she became the matriarch of the family. For the last 36 years, including the one a little more that two weeks before she died, she made seders for anywhere from 20 to 35 people."
Her homemade matzah balls and meatballs got rave reviews, as did "the stories about her childhood that she told in great detail at the end of the seder," said David Fickler. "She'd say: 'Let me tell you a story… .' Her stories have become woven into our families."
"My mother also had an amazing sense of humor, and would tell us that no matter what is going on, as long as you can laugh, you'll be okay."
"And then there was her amazing heart," he added. "She looked at things on the bright side. People were basically good at the core. She was the barometer for so many people around her about the right things to do - show respect, treat people with dignity and look out for the other person."
Contributions in her memory may be made to: the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia, 401 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19147.