Frank G. Binswanger Jr., the former owner of an international commercial real estate agency founded in Philadelphia, died on July 6 at his beach house in Margate, New Jersey. He was 94.
Binswanger, who was a member of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel and later Congregation Rodeph Shalom, grew up in Elkins Park. He attended high school at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and got his bachelor’s degree in English at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, according to his daughter, Jody Binswanger Snider.
He was best known for his lively personality, strong work ethic and devotion to his family — a work ethic that he tried to teach to his children, she said.
After serving in the Army for 3½ years, Binswanger returned home and joined The Binswanger Cos. co-founded by his father in 1931. He stayed with the company for the rest of his career.
According to nephew David Binswanger, Binswanger recognized, “that corporations were making location decisions based on strategic parameters rather than specific addresses. He opened offices across the country employing a centralized structure to make sure Binswanger viewed the world as corporations did. Eventually, that led to international expansion in over 25 countries.”
Soon, Binswanger found himself working with other large, international corporations, including Motorola, Intel, Amgen, Kohler, Caterpillar and IBM.
“He took a relatively local Penn-sylvania real estate firm and turned it into an international real estate mega-company with offices around the world,” Binswanger Snider said.
However, his business acumen wasn’t his most notable feature, she said. It was his devotion to family and friends that set Binswanger apart.
“Family was the most important aspect of his life, and he was so proud of his children and grandchildren,” David Binswanger said in the eulogy he wrote.
In Philadelphia, Binswanger was known as a strong supporter of the Philadelphia community, serving on the board of the Fox Chase Cancer Center and as the Philadelphia Chapter chair of the Young President’s Organization.
Binswanger met his wife, Suzanne, in Philadelphia, and they married in 1950. She was with him when he died.
Binswanger Snider remembered her parents’ relationship fondly.
“They really did have a fairy tale relationship to the very end,” she said. “I don’t remember them fighting.”
Binswanger strived to keep family traditions alive, including holiday cards and grand gatherings around Thanksgiving.
“He went to all my brothers’ sports games … We went skiing every year. We went from Philly to Stratton Mountain, which is a 5- to 6-hour car ride,” Binswanger Snider said.
Binswanger Snider recounted one of her fondest memories of her father from her childhood. One summer when she and her sister were at camp, her father decided he would visit — by renting a helicopter. He threw Mars chocolate bars down at the flagpole area of the camp for Snider and her friends from above.
“He was definitely the life of the party,” Snider said.
Binswanger loved dressing up, entertaining at parties and listening to as well as playing jazz music. He enjoyed the music of Lou Rawls, Grover Washington, Jr. and Frank Sinatra. His favorite costumes were his admiral outfit and an ape costume, which occasionally made appearances at family weddings. He could also, according to Binswanger Snider, dance well with a glass on his head.
Binswanger was remembered by friends as a passionate man who lived life to the fullest.
“He was tenacious as anybody I ever met. When he believed in something, he would go to the net with it,” said Bud Newman, former board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Binswanger and Newman were friends for more than 55 years after meeting through a neighbor.
“[We had] a genuine love for each other that inspired me to do all I can,” Newman said.
Time with his family showed the importance of things like education, travel and understanding different cultures, Binswanger Snider said.
“He demonstrated the best of Jewish values, the Jewish values of truthfulness, philanthropy and showing kindness,” she said.
Binswanger is survived by his wife of 72 years, Suzanne Hirsch Binswanger; his brother, John Binswanger (Gay); his children, Eve Wildrick, Jody Snider (Andy) and Jeff Binswanger (Shauna); six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. JE