Jon Blum, 88, died in his Philadelphia home on July 21, 2022.
Blum was a Philadelphia-born and raised businessman and social activist committed to progressive liberal Democratic causes from the Civil Rights Movement long into his retirement years as a socially responsible venture capital volunteer consultant.
After earning his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, he spent two years in the United States Army, including time in Munich, Germany where he earned a commendation for meritorious service.
When he returned the United States in the early 1960s, he joined Philadelphia-based Kuhn Blum & Company (KBC), a textile manufacturing business that his father co-founded with Alan Kuhn. He spent five years in Chicago with his then-wife, Nancy Blum, and two children, growing the KBC business and becoming active in the Chicago civil rights movement. In 1963, a photograph of Blum was featured on the cover of the Chicago Daily News being pulled into a paddy wagon by police when he was arrested at a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sit-in protesting residential and school desegregation.
He became active in local affairs which included City Charter protection and reform, the Get Set program, Poor People’s campaign, and West Mount Airy Neighbors. Blum actively campaigned and fundraised for Democratic candidates Thatcher Longstretch, Edmund Muskie, Milton Shapp, Jimmy Carter and moderate Republican Arlen Specter, many of whom wrote him personal thank you letters for his efforts.
In 1973, he was named chairman of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and was appointed by Governor Shapp to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). Blum ran for City Council in 1975 and was described in the Philadelphia Bulletin as demonstrating “independence and aggressive leadership as Governor Shapp’s appointee to the DVRPC” who “has not hesitated to confront the Rizzo Administration on matters before the regional planning group.”
Blum was one of 1000 prominent American business and labor leaders appointed by President Carter to help direct the United Nations Day programs honoring the anniversary of the UN. In 1978, he became executive producer of the award-winning documentary “Amateur Night at City Hall: The Story of Frank L. Rizzo.”
In the early 1980s, he was elected president of Mutual Real Estate Investment Trust (MREIT), a public real estate company whose mission was to prove that integrated communities do not lower property values. In the 1990s, Blum moved from the textile business to the financial world at Merrill Lynch where he helped develop a socially responsible investment strategy for more than 20 years. After he retired in 2010, he stayed active as a venture capital consultant with Untours Foundation and as a condominium board member. He enjoyed international travel with his wife Fran Freedman, as well as frequent visits to his family in Colorado, California, Florida, New York and Illinois.
He is survived by his wife Fran Freedman Blum, his children, Ellen Blum Barish (David), Adam (Gary Lang (d)), his step children, Samuel (Maryna Boiko) Freedman, Matthew (Anna), Edward Freedman, Katie Freedman Goldsmith (Adam Goldsmith) his many loving grandchildren Emily, Jennifer (Kelle), Max, Avery, Haven, and Ted. He is also survived by his brother, Michael (Irma) Blum.
Relatives and friends are invited to funeral services on Sunday, July 24th, 2022 at 1:30pm precisely at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks Suburban North, 310 Second St. Pike. Interment to follow at Roosevelt Memorial Park.
Gifts in his memory may be made to Untours Foundation, untoursfoundation.org/donate-now or to Mighty Writers, mightywriters.org/donate/, Mighty Writers ATTN: Development Director 1501 Christian Street Philadelphia, PA 19146.