Cover photo for William M. Schwartz's Obituary
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William M. Schwartz

December 21, 1928 — February 15, 2024

William M. Schwartz

WILLIAM M. SCHWARTZ “BILL” on February 15, 2024. Beloved husband of the late Ferne (nee Brait); Loving father of Cynthia Tice (Dennis), Sally Ford, and Philip Schwartz (Susan); Dear sister of Carol Estes; Devoted grandfather of Matt (Ivy), Sara (Will), Samuel, Jesse, Benjamin, and Lilah (Danny); Adoring great-grandfather of Theodore Eversden and Jack Ford.       

William Schwartz was born in Philadelphia on 12/21/1928.  He lived with his parents, Victor and Sara, sister Carol, and his mother’s extended family, his grandparents, aunts and uncles, with whom he was very close and who became like additional siblings.  Bill graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia and went on to attend The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.  He met his beloved wife, Ferne, in 1949 on a blind date.  In 1950, he was inducted into the Army where he served training water purification during the Korean War.  He married Ferne in 1951, and upon his discharge in 1952, they moved back to Philadelphia and started a family.

Upon his return to Philly, he joined Ferne’s brother Martin Brait in the family retail clothing business, Brait’s Men’s Clothing. That association let Bill and Marty to establish The American Pants Company, a successful chain of clothing stores which they owned together for 50 years.

Throughout his lifetime, Bill was committed to donating his time, talent, and money to various Jewish organizations beginning in his youth with his membership in AZA, the boys’ component of B’nai B’rith Youth.  Bill had deep ties to his synagogue, Beth Shalom in Elkins Park, PA, going back to the congregation’s years at Broad and Courtland Streets in Logan.  Rabbi Mortimer J. Cohen officiated at Bill and Ferne’s wedding as well as the wedding of his parents.  In 1975, Bill co-chaired the membership committee, and then went on to serve as a trustee and congregational vice president through the mid 1980’s.  

Bill served with The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia beginning in 1979, when he was president of the Federation Thrift Shop for five years followed by a term as its chairman of the board.  Under Bill’s leadership, the Thrift Shop was the most successful single store federation thrift shop in the country.  

Bill was passionate about serving the needs of elderly Jews, especially the indigent, stating his desire for “…improving the golden years of our Jewish elderly through research, health care, and innovative programs.”  As a member of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center board for nearly 20 years, Bill served as the Center’s fifth president from 1985-1989.  Under his presidency, he founded the President’s Cabinet and guided the development of the David H. and Ester R. Solms Pavilion.  Prior to that, he served as the first vice president.  During his tenure he served as chairman of the Public Relations as well as numerous committees including Long Range Planning, Executive, Medical, Finance, Religious Life, Development, Research, and Public Relations.  Bill was responsible for the establishment the Victor and Sara Schwartz Religious Life Program, named for his parents, and he was a founding member of PGC’s Les Vizak Society for the Jewish Aged.  He played a leadership role in PGC’s Building for Life campaign for its Horsham Campus.

Additional community service included serving as chair for FAJA’s combined Apparel Industries Division, as a board member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Philadelphia, and on the executive board of Israeli Bonds.  In 2015, he served on the National Board of Interfaith Family Services. 


In 1989, Bill was honored with the PGC Auxiliary’s Tribute Award, its highest honor.   In 1991, he was the recipient of the Morton Tabas Humanitarian Award at Beth Shalom. In 2003, Bill was awarded lifetime membership on the Federation Board.  He received the Family Award from Abramson in 2005.  

Most of all, Bill was a devoted husband and family man.  He treasured Ferne, his wife of 70 years above all else, followed closely by his children, his extended family, including his sister Carol and her children and his brother-in-law, Marty’s family.  He loved boating, fishing, and travel, and he and Ferne had the great fortune to travel the world together.  He was a man who loved life with an optimism, sense of humor, and exuberance that was contagious, and touched the lives of all that he encountered. He passed peacefully at home surrounded by love, just in time to rejoin Ferne on Valentine’s Day.   He will be deeply missed.  


Relatives and friends are invited to Funeral Services, Sunday, 12:30 PM precisely at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St., Phila., PA. Int. Roosevelt Memorial Park. Shiva will be observed at The Hill at Whitemarsh, on Sunday, 2/18, from 5-8 pm; on Monday 2/19 from 5-8 pm at the Tice home, and on Tuesday, 2/20,  from 6-9 pm at the Schwartz home.  Contributions in his memory may be made to Abramson Senior Care, , or Beth Sholom Congregation, , of Jewish Federation of Greater Phila.,

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Past Services

William M. "Bill" Schwartz

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Starts at 12:30 pm (Eastern time)

Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Funeral Directors, Inc.

6410 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19126

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