May 20, 2010

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Helen D. McDowell, volunteer

Helen Duross “Toby” McDowell, 78, a lifetime resident of Chestnut Hill and an active community volunteer, died May 13 at the Springfield Residence in Wyndmoor, where she had been living for several months.

Mrs. McDowell was a former board member of the Chestnut Hill Community Association and had been actively involved over the years in many of the association’s projects. She was a former chairperson of the Holiday House Tour, a volunteer at the Pastorius Park Concerts and worked on board elections and mailings at the association’s office.

She also had been a volunteer at Chestnut Hill Academy, from which four of her sons had graduated.

Born in Chestnut Hill, the daughter of George and Helen Duross, Mrs. McDowell was a graduate of Springside School, where she had been captain of the varsity lacrosse team.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and later returned to the university as an office administrator in the Geology Department.

A constant source of action and hospitality, she maintained a bustling home base, not only for her own children, but also for her children’s friends, and figured prominently in many of their lives.

Mrs. McDowell is survived by her husband of 54 years, William Wallace McDowell Jr.; sons William III, George, Andrew and Luke; a daughter, Nina Lamb; sisters Sr. Therese Margaret, R.A., and Georgianna Hannum Stapleton; and 11 grandchildren. A son, Ian, and a sister, Mary, preceded her in death.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 21, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, 8000 St. Martin’s Lane in Chestnut Hill.

Memorial donations may be made to the Springside School, 8000 Cherokee St., Philadelphia, PA 19118.  – WF


Irene G. Wolf, philanthropist

Irene Goldovsky Wolf, 93, a patron of numerous arts organizations in the Delaware Valley, died of heart failure May 8 at her home in Chestnut Hill.

Mrs. Wolf served on the board of the Friends of Curtis Institute of Music from 1994 to 2007. Her mother, Lea Luboshutz, a concert violinist, taught at Curtis from 1927 to 1947, and her brother, Boris Goldovsky, was head of the opera department at the school.

Her late son, Andrew, was a Curtis graduate.

Mrs. Wolf served for 30 years on the national board of Young Audiences Inc. and was a cofounder and former chair of its Philadelphia chapter, which is now known as Young Audience Arts for Living of Eastern Pennsylvania. The organization makes available multicultural arts education programs.

She also helped to establish Youth Arts and the Bay Chamber Concerts in Camden, Maine.

Mrs. Wolf’s philanthropy extended to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Settlement Music School and other arts organizations. She and her husband, the late husband, Walter L “Billy” Wolf, were collectors of folk art and donated many items to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of American Folk Art.

Mrs. Wolf was born in Moscow and immigrated to the United States with her mother in 1928. She was a graduate of Cheltenham High School.

She is survived by another son, Nicholas; daughters Alexandra Fogel, Lucy Tuton and Catherine; 13 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren. Her son Andrew died in 1985, and her husband, in 2002.

Funeral services will be announced. Memorial donations may be made to Curtis Institute of Music, Development Office, 1726 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19103, or to Bay Chamber Concerts, 59 Bay View St., Camden, ME, 04853 or Merryspring Horticultural Center, P.O. Box 893, 30 Conway Rd., Camden, ME, 04843. – WF


Pearl Seifert, educator

Pearl “Bobby Seifert, 92, formerly of Wyndmoor, a reading specialist and author, died May 13 at the home of her granddaughter Joanna Hoffman in Chestnut Hill.

Mrs. Seifert had been a reading specialist for the Philadelphia School District for 25 years and, later, with Miquon School for nearly a decade.

She also was the author of “Interaction,” an innovative reading program that was published in 1972 and updated over the next 10 years. Although designed for students in inner-city schools, the program was popular in many other schools across the United States and in Canada, and still is being used.

Mrs. Seifert was a graduate of West Philadelphia High School and was valedictorian of her class at Philadelphia Normal School. She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Temple University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

She was an accomplished artist and an avid gardener.

In addition to her granddaughter, she is survived by sons Michael, Ray and Hank; a daughter, Sandy; eight other grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Mrs. Seifert’s husband of 58 years, Maury Seifert, died in 2002.

A celebration of life service was held May 17 at the home of her granddaughter in Chestnut Hill. – WF


Thomas Reath Jr., metal broker

Thomas Reath Jr., 92, formerly of Chestnut Hill, a retired metal broker, died May 6 at his home in York Harbor, Maine, after a brief illness.

Mr. Reath had operated his own metals firm, Rambler Enterprises, for nearly three decades before retiring in the mid-1980s. Earlier he had worked for the H.K. Porter Co., an industrial toolmaker, in New Jersey.

An avid sailor, he was a lifetime member of the Northeast Harbor (Maine) Fleet. Introduced to sailing by his mother, Mary Thompson Reath, his real love was the wooden, Downeast lobster-style yacht, three of which he owned over a period of 25 years. He also loved to cruise the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Born and raised in Chestnut Hill, Mr. Reath attended Chestnut Hill Academy, St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., and graduated from the Evans School for Boys in Tucson, Ariz. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

He served as a communications officer in the Navy during World War II.

Mr. Reath also was a skilled restorer of antique furniture and an enthusiastic gardener.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Joyce Borie; daughters Joyce Reece of Cambridge, Mass., and Mary Reath of Concord, N.H.; four grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

A memorial celebration of his life will be held at St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea in Northeast Harbor, Maine, at a time to be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to York Hospital, 15 Hospital Drive, York, ME 03909 or to a local branch of the Salvation Army.  – WF



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