Louis Abramson, who served as national commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and was active in the organization throughout his life, died at the Horsham Center for Jewish Life in Montgomery County on April 19. He was 90.
M.B. Kanis, commander of Drizin-Weiss Jewish War Veteran Post 215 and Abramson’s colleague, said Abramson rose through the ranks of JWV after serving as a sergeant during the Korean War. He became a member of the organization’s Department of Pennsylvania, an officer, a post commander, a commander of the Department of Pennsylvania and eventually the national commander. He was also a post commander after he served his national commander term.
Kanis said Abramson was a peacekeeper among members of JWV, always had a warm smile and was willing to offer guidance and leadership when needed. Members of his post considered him a true friend.
“At any time that I ever spoke to him, he was a mentor,” Kanis said.
Abramson grew up in South Philadelphia and attended Benjamin Franklin High School. His wife, Gloria Abramson, said he was inspired to join the armed forces and support veterans as a boy when his friends and family members returned from World War II with tales of serving their country.
“He was just taken with wanting to do what he could to help the veteran coming back from the service,” Gloria Abramson said. “He had this empathy, the support and devotion to the service people that gave us this freedom.”
When he graduated high school he joined the National Guard and served in Korea. After he was honorably discharged, he remained part of the National Guard and owned a gas station in addition to his career at JWV.
He was married for 70 years and had three daughters. He and his wife were childhood sweethearts and grew up in South Philadelphia together before living in Mt. Airy for 25 years and then in Warminster for 42 years. They celebrated the 75th anniversary of their first date in early April.
Gloria Abramson said much of her husband’s work involved advocating for the families of service members. Later in his life, most of his projects centered around helping families of deceased veterans understand the benefits to which they were entitled.
During his time as national commander, he traveled across the country and to Europe to advocate for veterans with his wife and brother, Allan Abramson, who was his chief of staff. He laid the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with President George W. Bush, and was invited to attend the president’s inauguration and inaugural ball.
“I remember him calling me and saying, ‘We’re going Tuesday morning to have breakfast with the president,’” Gloria Abramson said.
In addition to his positions at JWV, Lou Abramson was a member of the American Legion Post 166 and AMVETS Post 77.
Religion and the Jewish community were important to him. He was president of Congregation Tiferes B’nai Israel, where he received the Man of the Year award. He was active in his posts’ Holocaust education programs and regularly visited churches and community centers to speak about the topic alongside concentration camp liberators and survivors.
His relatives remember him as a dedicated family patriarch. Gloria Abramson said he was a grandfather of 14, counting spouses of grandchildren, and a great-grandfather of 10. He was preceded in death by his eldest daughter, Brenda Fineberg, and son-in-law Rick Ryan.
Gloria Abramson said her husband was by her side when she had an amputation in 2015. Although she recovered from the procedure, it took a toll on both of them.
“There was a time when it was not good, and he was there by my side, and he never went home. He just slept on a chair in the room where I was,” she said.
At the end of his life, Louis Abramson lived at Horsham Center for Jewish Life in a room close to his wife. Even during the pandemic, they were able to watch TV and eat meals together. She said he died peacefully in his sleep after contracting pneumonia and experiencing organ failure.
His funeral, which was held at King David Memorial Park in Bensalem on April 22, drew more than 250 mourners on Zoom.
“They kept referring to him as a mensch,” Gloria Abramson said.