Jerome J. Neff Profile Photo

Jerome J. Neff

November 11, 1930 — January 6, 2024

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

Jerome J. Neff

Jerome J. Neff, 93, of Bala Cynwyd, retired furniture entrepreneur, celebrated mentor, and philanthropist, died Saturday, Jan. 6, of age-associated decline, at his home.

Adept in all facets of business ownership — purchasing, marketing, sales, transportation, finances, customer service, and employee relations — Mr. Neff established and ran Delaware Valley Distributing Corp., Prussia Trucking Co., and Mid-Atlantic Furniture Sales Inc. from 1955 until his retirement in 2007. He grew the companies, based at first in King of Prussia and later in the Harrisburg area, to one of the country’s largest wholesale furniture distributors and supplied hundreds of retail stores from Massachusetts to Maryland and beyond.

He built a state-of-the-art warehouse in King of Prussia, managed a fleet of nearly a dozen trucks, and made long-lasting sales relationships with Bassett, Vaughan-Bassett, and other furniture manufacturers. He became so successful at predicting furniture sales trends and organizing complex supply chains that top executives at Bassett and Vaughan-Bassett later relied on him as a special consultant.

He was inducted into the Tri-State Home Furnishings Association Hall of Fame in 2003 and won Vaughan-Bassett’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for “service to the industry.” John D. Bassett III, chairman of Vaughan-Bassett, said Mr. Neff was “not only an expert salesman, but he was also an excellent businessman who could divorce himself from his own territory and give advice to benefit the furniture industry for the entire country.”

Mr. Neff served as president of the Furniture Club of Philadelphia in the 1960s and ‘70s, and was quoted often in The Inquirer and other publications in stories about taxes, inflation, and other business topics. In 1977, he criticized city officials in Forbes magazine for their “inability to enlist the aid of shakers and movers to stem the tide of decay in the city.”

He got his first job at 8 as a newspaper delivery boy and worked during college with his father in furniture sales. As a philanthropist and fundraiser, Mr. Neff made loans to friends and those in need, and supported Doctors Without Borders, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and other local and world service groups. He especially enjoyed his time as a mentor for the Baida Institute for Entrepreneurship at Drexel University and SCORE mentoring service.

He was direct and honest as an adviser, his family said, and he encouraged self-confidence and pride in one’s work. Some students said he was like a second father. “He believed not in telling you what you wanted to hear but what you needed to hear,” said his son Bill.

Jerome Joslow Neff was born Nov. 11, 1930, in Philadelphia. He grew up in Mount Airy, graduated as president of his class at Central High School, and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, accounting, and business management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1952.

He ran cross-country and track in high school, and enjoyed public speaking and debates. He met Suzanne Goodman as a young boy, and they married in 1951, and had sons Dan, Richard, and Bill. They lived in West Oak Lane and Penn Valley. She died in 1979.

He married Nancy Cramer in 1983 and lived in Bala Cynwyd. She died in 2023.

Mr. Neff served in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps for the Army and Navy while in college, and was president of the Philadelphia Young Democrats for a time. Later, he served for decades as a Republican poll worker in Lower Merion.

He played golf at Green Valley Country Club, had season tickets to the Eagles for years, and took his sons to Big Five college basketball games at the Palestra. His favorite time of the sports year was the college basketball playoff tournament in March.

He traveled to Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Australia. He and his first wife insisted their sons learn Spanish and took them on memorable visits to Guatemala, Panama, and Colombia.

He had season tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra and liked to visit casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He was in charge of reunions for his class at Central for a time, and friends remember both his sage advice and sense of humor.

“He was an original,” said his son Dan. “By word and deed he taught lots of life lessons.” His son Richard said: “He was a very smart guy. He was blunt and could be very funny. Under it all, he had a heart of gold, and he was a giver.”

In addition to his sons, Mr. Neff is survived by nine grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and other relatives. A brother died earlier.

Services are to be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, at Temple Adath Israel, 250 North Highland Avenue, Merion, PA 19066. Interment is to follow at Haym Salomon Memorial Park, 200 Moores Road, Malvern, PA 19355.

Contributions in his memory may be made to Hillel at Drexel University P.O. Box 8215 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101-6984 or to The Philadelphia Orchestra 1 South Broad Street, 14th Floor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107 or to Americans for Ben-Gurion University P.O. Box 7410310 Chicago, Illinois 60674-0310

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jerome J. Neff, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Funeral Service

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)


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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Haym Salomon Memorial Park

200 Moores Rd, Malvern, PA 19355

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