Karl H. Spaeth, attorney


Karl H. Spaeth of Conshohocken died on April 11 of natural causes. He was 91.

Spaeth was born in Philadelphia on March 12, 1929, the third son of Lena Link and Edmund B. Spaeth. He grew up in Germantown.

Spaeth was educated at Germantown Friends School, Haverford College, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School. Later he studied music at the Plymouth (MA.) Music School, and the Salzburg Mozarteum.

He started his career as a lawyer in private practice with a Philadelphia law firm, but within a few years moved into corporate practice, serving as counsel for foreign operations at Scott Paper Company, followed by nearly 30 years as vice president, corporate secretary, and chief legal officer of Quaker Chemical Corporation.

Spaeth served for many years as chairman of the section on international and comparative law of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and as chairman of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council.

He served on active duty with the U.S. Navy for five years as a line officer then switched to the Judge Advocate General's corps after law school and remained active in the reserve forces until retiring after more than 21 years of service with the rank of Commander.

In addition to his professional career, Spaeth remained active with numerous non-profit organizations. Serving twice as a church vestryman, chairman of the board of Chestnut Hill Academy, executive secretary and later chairman of the Philadelphia Committee on Foreign Relations, an overseer of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, a director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, founding chairman of what now is the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, a director of the Settlement Music School and chairman of the Germantown Branch, chairman of the Quaker Chemical Foundation, and as a director and secretary of the German Society of Pennsylvania, for which he also served as the chair for the society’s music committee.

Karl was not only a Renaissance man but a very gifted athlete. In his younger years he was a state champion fencer, accomplished figure skater and an All American soccer player, a sport he continued to participate in until he was 50.

He was a member of the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, where he also enjoyed playing tennis, paddle tennis and golf. He loved skiing, sailing and took up rowing later in life with his wife, Ann, as a member of the University Barge Club.

He is survived by his three sons, Karl Henry Spaeth Jr, Edmund Alexander Spaeth, Christopher Philip Spaeth and his brother George Link Spaeth. He has nine grandchildren: Emma, Hannah, Lauren, Martha, Gunner, Collin, Phoebe, Dirk and Lily.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the German Society of Philadelphia at 611 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123. Services will be determined at a later date.



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