Milton Bugay, jeweler and pianist

Obituaries January 24, 2013 0 Comments

Milton Bugay, 92, a jeweler and pianist, who for 45 years, along with his wife, operated a jewelry store in Chestnut Hill founded by his father, died Dec. 31 of congestive heart failure at his home in Chestnut Hill.

Mr. Bugay and his wife, the late Margaret Bugay, managed Bugay’s Jewelers, at 8638 Germantown Ave., from 1958 until 2003, when the Bugay’s children took over the store’s operation. The business was started by Mr. Bugay’s father, Samuel, a watchmaker, in the late 1920s.

In addition to managing the jewelry store, Mr. Bugay had a successful career as a pianist who played at supper and night clubs throughout the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey areas. For a time, he recorded music on his own label.

During the 1970s, he played at clubs and restaurants in Montgomery and Bucks counties and taught a music course at Montgomery County Community College. Even at the age of 86 he continued to perform regularly, and at 90 was taking requests from patients while playing a grand piano in the lobby of a rehabilitation center where he was recuperating from a bout of edema.

According to his daughter Rosalind, Mr. Bugay prided himself on his knowledge of classical and popular music and continued to play Bach every day until a few weeks before his death.

Born in Philadelphia, he graduated from Germantown High School and attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania until enlisting in the Coast Guard during World War II. As a musician, he was kept stateside and performed with bands at military hospitals and bases.

While stationed at Curtis Bay in Maryland he attended the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and stayed on after his discharge to complete his Preparatory Certificate. He then enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, but returned to Philadelphia after his mother’s death in 1946 and re-enrolled in the Wharton School. With only three years left on his GI Bill, he persuaded the university to allow him to pursue a bachelor’s degree along with a master’s degree in music.

Mr. Bugay met his future wife, Margaret Dalton, while he was performing at a dinner club in Center City Philadelphia. He helped her to start a hair cosmetics business that became successful in the Middle Atlantic States. He wrote marketing commercials for late-night TV shows, and his wife, a model, would demonstrate the products.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Bugay is survived by sons Samuel and Arthur, and eight grandchildren. Funeral services were held Jan. 2 at Goldstein’s Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks funeral home, with interment in Montefiore Cemetery. – WF

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