Joseph H. Levine, fourth-generation president of Joseph Levine & Sons Funeral Directors passed away Monday, June 29, of pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by his children at his residence in Bala Cynwyd. For five decades, he served the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community. In June of 1979, at the death of his father’s partner Bill McKenna, Levine’s was located at only one location, 7112 North Broad St. in Philadelphia. In 1986, Joe was instrumental in the acquisition of Haym Salomon Memorial Park and Stillman’s Memorial Chapel. In 1996, he opened a funeral home branch in Broomall, and in November of 1999, the firm’s third location, in Trevose, became a reality.
Born in Philadelphia, Joe began working for his father when he was 14, commuting to the office, then located at 1512 North Broad St., after school on Fridays then returning home with his father after work on Sunday. He grew it into a business based on trust, involvement and compassion. He gave the same care to the affluent and the disadvantaged. It was in many ways that everybody wanted a part of him and he gave not only to charities but also to individuals in need. He was available at anytime — 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., he would always return calls. He often said that his business was 24/7 and the only way to get away is to go away. With all of the restrictions, he loved the people and the friends and relations that he built over the years.
Joe received his undergraduate degree in business at St. Joseph’s University and his degree in mortuary studies at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 1970. He became licensed in July 1970. In addition to his lifelong commitment to his family and his business, Joe served the Jewish community through his activity with the Golden Slipper Club and the former Golden Slipper Club Uptown Home, where he was president in 1983-1984 and 1999-2000.
His involvement with the organization began when a group of Golden Slipper members began talks with what was then known as The Uptown Home for the Jewish Aged and took over operations of the home in 1986 when it became The Golden Slipper Uptown Home. Joe served as a Vice President from that time until he became president in 1999. He also served as co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Allied Jewish Appeal campaign with Ralph Snyder in 1995-1996 and was a vice chair for eight years preceding that appointment.
Joe was the recipient of the Golden Slipper Club “Gold Medallion” 1987, The Myer & Rosalie Feinstein Young Leadership Award 1985, Philadelphia County Council Jewish War Veterans “Man of the Year” 1986-1987, The Passover League’s “Award of Merit” 1989, The Jewish Theological Seminary Shin award 1999, and the Israel Unity Award, State of Israel Bonds, October 29, 2000.
Joe was a member of Har Zion Temple and Green Valley Country Club. He remained active with the three philanthropic organizations which were so dear to him: The Golden Slipper Club & Charities, The Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education and The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
Joe’s father’s former partner, William E. McKenna, had a saying for all of the good things that happened, which Joe referred to when talking about his four children: that he was kissed by G-d four times for all of the joy they bring to his life. He is survived by his children Adam D. (Alina), Brian M. (Jennifer), Jonathon D. (Rachel) and Lindsey B. Levine. Besides his children, he is also survived by a sister, Mary Pottash, and 6 grandchildren, Jordyn, Devyn, Akiva, Aryeh, Jaydon and Jillian.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at 2 p.m., at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley. At the family’s request, interment will be private. Contributions in his memory may be made to Golden Slipper Club & Charities, Jewish Learning Venture (formerly the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education), the Passover League of Philadelphia or a charity of the donor’s choice.