Harold S. Rosenbluth was a “traveling man.” But he was so much more.
Yes, Harold S. Rosenbluth was a “traveling man.” But he was so much more.
“All I can say is, he was a man who inspired us with his wisdom and passion for travel,” said Susan Brenner, vice president of operations for Rosenbluth Vacations, where he first worked, then carried on the family travel business as recently as 2015 when he was 90. “He was so down-to-earth and kind and knowledgeable.
“He was our go-to person for anything we needed, especially related to travel. He was always available to answer any questions and to talk to clients. I’ll tell you every employee here would say the same thing: He was a very humble, kind wonderful man — a mentor who inspired us all.”
Besides that, Mr. Rosenbluth, who passed away Feb. 3 at 91, was a patron of the arts and a man deeply committed not only to Judaism but all faiths. President of Congregation Rodeph Shalom from 1976 to 1980, he was also a member of the board of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic relations at Saint Joseph’s University.
“Dad was always involved in interfaith activities,” said his oldest son, Hal. “As a family man, he believed in the beauty of everyone’s faith, whatever that might be. Rather than have religions grow apart, he wanted to help them grow together, so they’d have a better understanding of Judaism and Christianity. The fact is, there are more similarities than differences.”
Ranking right up there with religion and family — including his wife of 67 years, Frances, sons Hal and Lee, daughter Amy, and seven grandchildren — was travel. “Dad, with Mom, saw the world over 67 years,” said son Lee. “They traveled everywhere and, when they returned, he loved going into the office and sharing his experiences and guidance with his clients.
“He was an intrepid traveler. He must’ve been to over 100 countries and had no fear of driving in any of them. He was more into sightseeing — he didn’t like to be on a beach and sit around. He had to be active.”
Asked what gifts his father would bring home from his journeys, Lee replied, “He didn’t bring gifts. He brought knowledge. He loved to bring back pieces of art from all over the world and would invite people into his home to share the art. It was rarely something from a known artist. He loved to meet a local artist and to look at a painting, purchase it and bring it back.”
However, Mr. Rosenbluth’s love of culture went beyond the visual arts. “His way of giving back was not only philanthropic,” said Lee. “One thing he did was invite young musicians” from the Curtis Institute of Music “to his house and open the house to his friends to experience their music. He had these year after year.
“Dad, simply put, always was about others, never about him. Everything he did was to make others happy. I have five pages of donations we were going over at the end: the arts, synagogues, Boy Scouts, you name it. I think the only board he wasn’t on was a skateboard.”
When it came to business, Mr. Rosenbluth was always there to advise his children and other employees. But he left them on their own. “It was a family business, which makes it a 24/7 relationship,” said Lee. “Dad was the one who loosened the reigns to let all of us do our thing in the business.
“He gave his opinion, but let us make our own decisions and never second-guessed us. He was the consummate cheerleader in the family business and came into the office until he was 90 years old.”
Born in 1924, Mr. Rosenbluth attended Central High, then graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947, before going on to earn his law degree in 1950. He also met Frances during that span.
But his college years were interrupted by his service time in the Army during World War II — experiences he never wanted to share with his family. “Like everyone from the ‘Greatest Generation,’ he never talked about it,” said Hal. “A couple of months ago, I found out he was a sergeant and served in Northern Italy, France and North Africa, where he may have served under Patton. One of his last wishes was to have a flag over his coffin, because he was proud of serving.”
Services for Harold S. Rosenbluth took place Feb. 8 at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, followed by a private burial at Roosevelt Memorial Park. Donations can be made to the Harold S. Rosenbluth Memorial Fund at Rodeph Shalom Synagogue, 615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia 19123.
Contact: [email protected] 215-832-0729