Educator, Advocate Miriam Spector Dies at 76

Miriam Spector
Miriam Spector (Courtesy of Melissa Greenberg)

A common thread in all the comments people made in the wake of Miriam Spector’s death was her commitment — how fully invested she was in every cause, how she shied away from small talk and the way she made you feel like the most important person in the room.

On Aug. 12, Spector died following a stroke at her family’s vacation home in Eagle, Colorado. She was 76.

Friends said Spector was committed to strengthening educational institutions and the Jewish community. Her career included stints as director of the Intergenerational Center at Temple University’s College of Education, director of long-term planning at Harcum College and adjunct faculty member in Temple’s psychology department.

A Baltimore native, Spector volunteered with many Jewish organizations. She was a former trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, an executive committee member of Women of Vision and a board member of the Jewish Learning Venture and of Gratz College. She was a supporter of J Street and local Jewish summer camps.

Melissa Greenberg, chief development officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, recalled the importance of Jewish life to Spector.

“It was part of her fabric and her being,” Greenberg said. “She not only volunteered, was a board leader, but worked in the Jewish community. And made sure that having a Jewish home was something she provided for her whole family, which then touched everyone else around her.”

Rabbi Philip Warmflash met Spector more than two decades ago.

Now the CEO of Jewish Learning Venture, Warmflash was brought on by Spector to head an earlier incarnation of the organization. Phone calls between the two were frequent. Warmflash said she called to talk about the Jewish community or to encourage him to see the latest show she saw on Broadway.

“I always loved talking to her. Whatever the call was about, it was a bright spot in the day,” Warmflash said.

Supporting the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation was a Spector priority. She chaired the Free Library’s institutional advancement committee for a decade.

Tobey Dichter, who has chaired the Foundation board, said Spector was someone who knew when to ask the right question at the right time.

“Miriam Spector had conviction of her courage. So she would boldly go where others were afraid to tread,” Dichter said. “She would ask that difficult question that prompted the conversation that led you in a new direction. She was unafraid to challenge, to ask and then she was forever flexible about any response.”

Son Jeremy Spector said he was grateful for his relationship with his mother.

“To watch her with my son, her grandson, was something to behold,” he said. “She loved her grandkids in a way that I suppose every grandmother does, but to watch how much time and effort she took to know what they were doing, and to learn what was important to them, to get involved in their lives because stuff was important to them, regardless of whether it was important to her, was really moving.”

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