Albert Boscov - A life well lived
Berks County retail legend Albert Boscov is remembered
EXETER >> The announcement came late Friday evening: Albert Boscov, Pennsylvania’s iconic retailer — leader of the department store chain that bears his family name — had passed away at 87.
Boscov’s death came a little more than one week after he sent a letter to employees announcing that he was battling terminal cancer. He passed away at home, surrounded by his wife Eunice and his three daughters.
The announcement of Boscov’s death was made “with profound sadness” by his nephew Jim Boscov, CEO and vice chairman of Boscov’s Department Store LLC.
“Albert Boscov was truly one of the giants in the retail industry,” Jim Boscov said in the statement. “He was a man of vision and passion and he had a profound influence on the retail business community and the community at large.”
On Friday, the company’s Facebook page posted a note from Boscov thanking the public for the wellwishes that had been sent since the announcement.
“I’ve been amazed at the amount of wonderful notes that you’ve sent and I know I don’t deserve them, but I certainly enjoyed them. You’re a wonderful group of people that have been part of my family for 87 years and I’m most proud of all of you. Love, Al,” the post read.
As word began to spread about Boscov’s passing Friday night, reaction in the form of statements and social media posts quickly followed.
“While Albert was wellknown as a retailer and a driving force behind several projects in downtown Reading, he should be equally remembered for his work as a humanitarian. He helped — actually helped, and not just allowed — organizations to hold food and clothing drives, bake sales, and other events at his stores,” Kevin K. Murphy, Berks County Community Foundation president, said in a statement. “He established a ‘Friends Helping Friends’ program for nonprofits to sell coupons for his stores, with all ticket sales going directly to the nonprofits. He gave financial support to many causes, including the Penn State Berks Thun Library and Genesius Theatre, and he even performed for Genesius as Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“His philanthropic spirit is why he was named in 1993 as recipient of the Thun Award, which honors those dedicated to improving the quality of life in Berks County. He was a friend, mentor and supporter for a generation of community leaders.”
Reading GoggleWorks Executive Director Levi Landis posted on Facebook Friday: “Tonight the GoggleWorks family mourns the loss of our co-founder and visionary Albert Boscov. We extend our warmest comforts to his family, including his extended family at Boscov’s and the numerous nonprofits, organizations, and communities he reached with his legendary charm and brilliance. His life is truly an inspiration and from it the world now has a little more beauty, art, trust, friendship ... and candy. Thank you Mr. Boscov.”
The Reading Royals hockey team also posted on Facebook Friday: “Tonight we say goodbye to a Reading legend. Mr. Boscov, you gave this city so much pride with the continued love you provided. Thanks for believing in us and being a driving force in the creation of the great arena we play in! You will be SORELY missed. We will try to pick up the torch and carry it forward in your honor. Our hope is to be a part of something you’d be proud of. We love you and we will miss you. — Royals Nation”
On Saturday, Jim Boscov told Digital First Media that he has been hearing from people in the days since the first announcement was made — people who have shared memories about how Boscov had personally affected them over the years.
“We’ve been hearing just one thing after another. He lived his life doing good things for people — not just good business. He will be remembered for being more than just the world’s best merchant,” Boscov said, adding that the company will continue to build on the legacy of Albert Boscov. “I am very comforted by the fact that his energy and spirit has gotten infused into his whole family here. We have a formula that works — a successful formula — and we will continue his legacy and build on it.”
On Saturday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., tweeted: “Saddened to hear of Al Boscov’s passing. He was a terrific leader and community partner. My condolences to the family.”
State Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, tweeted: “Admired, respected and loved by customers and co-workers alike. We will miss you greatly #Albert Boscov. May you Rest in Peace.”
Albert Boscov’s indomitable spirit — he was working at home until Tuesday, according to Jim Boscov — was focused on the success of the company, its customers and co-workers; and it was focused on his community. He led the company in growth and returned the company to prosperity after a bankruptcy in 2008.
Boscov’s is now largest family-owned department store chain in the nation, with 45 stores in seven states, employing more than 7,500 co-workers. In addition to his business skill, Boscov is known for his philanthropy and his commitment to the re-
“He lived his life doing good things for people — not just good business. He will be remembered for being more than just the world’s best merchant. I am very comforted by the fact that his energy and spirit has gotten infused into his whole family here. We have a formula that works — a successful formula — and we will continue his legacy and build on it.” — Jim Boscov, CEO and vice chairman, Boscov’s Department Store LLC
Albert Boscov smiles at the Exeter Boscov’s store in 2014 to mark the company’s 100th anniversary.
Albert Boscov in front of the Exeter store, corporate headquarters for the retail chain. The company was celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014.