Arthur Lorber, owner of firm

Arthur Lorber
Arthur Lorber
Posted: January 20, 2013

His father's plumbing supply business on Germantown Avenue was not Arthur Lorber's chosen destination when he graduated from Central High School in 1943.

An accomplished student, a Barnwell Scholar, he was intent on becoming a doctor. He enrolled in a premed course at Temple University School of Pharmacy, and soon ascended to the top of his class.

While he was still a freshman, World War II intervened. It redirected the course of his life, not just for the next three years, but for nearly 50.

When Mr. Lorber died at age 87 on Tuesday, Jan. 15, he was best known as the longtime owner of J. Lorber Plumbing Supply in Pennsauken. He had retired in 1988, and traveled between homes in Westmont and Boca Raton, Fla., where he died at the Boca Regional Medical Center of pneumonia.

Mr. Lorber never spoke of his WWII service, or the Bronze Star that came of it, until much later in life, said his daughter, Fran Gelman. Once into his 70s, he became a fount of stories, and even retraced his battle steps through the European theater with nine comrades in 1999.

As a pharmacy school freshman in 1943, he barely had warmed a seat when the Navy drafted him, only to quickly let him go because he was a top-notch student. Within months, the Army came knocking, and shipped him to Europe with the 398th Infantry Regiment, 100th Division.

The long, bloody road took him to the Battle of the Bulge, to Petit-Rederching in Alsace, and the Jagst River in Germany, where he strung communication wire in a minefield - his Bronze Star feat. He fought back the Germans at the fortress town Bitche, inspiration for the 100th's nickname, "the Sons of Bitche."

In 1946, about to be discharged, Mr. Lorber developed rheumatic fever, delaying his return home by months. By the time he got back to Philadelphia, his family said, he had had his fill of doctors, and no longer wanted to be one.

He went to Pennsylvania State University for industrial engineering, and in 1951 got a bachelor's degree. After a number of years at Philco, he joined his brothers in the plumbing supply business started by his father, a Lithuanian immigrant, in 1918.

The firm relocated to Bensalem and Pennsauken, where Mr. Lorber was sole owner at the time of his retirement.

He was a member of the Camden Rotary, Quaker Tri-State Plumbing Organization, and the Haddonfield Tennis Club, and a former member of Temple Beth Sholom, Cherry Hill.

A visitation will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, with a funeral at 11:30 a.m. Interment will be in Crescent Memorial Park, Pennsauken.

Memorial donations may be made at

Contact Kathleen Tinney at 610-313-8106.

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