Paul Tanker, philanthropist, actuary

Paul A. Tanker
Paul A. Tanker
Posted: July 04, 2013

Paul A. Tanker, 86, of Philadelphia, a philanthropist and actuarial company founder, died Monday, July 1, at Einstein Medical Center of complications from a stroke.

He became ill Saturday while playing tennis at the Germantown Cricket Club. He lived in Cherry Hill and Wyndmoor before moving to the city several years ago.

In 1960, with a $2,000 loan from friends, he created Paul A. Tanker & Associates, a pension and actuarial consulting firm in Center City. The company grew from two employees to 55 before he sold it in 1989 to Noble Lowndes, an international benefits company.

Too young to retire, he continued to act as a consultant. At the same time, he established the Tanker Family Charitable Trust, which began a Jewish studies program at Pennsylvania State University to promote and cultivate interfaith dialogue.

"The program was his first, ongoing, and one of his biggest philanthropy projects," said his son Mark S.

He and several other Penn State alumni endowed a chair of Jewish studies. "I wanted to show my appreciation in a tangible form, for what I had learned at Penn State in terms of business, tolerance, and philosophy," Mr. Tanker said at the time, according to his son.

Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Tanker graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1943. He enrolled for one semester at Penn State before enlisting in the Navy.

He served as a chief petty officer and flagman on the Rockaway, a seaplane tender, off the coast of Brazil. After his tour of duty, he returned to Penn State and earned a business degree on the G.I. Bill in 1948.

A year later, he married the former Leona Kornblau in Atlantic City. He held multiple jobs to support his family, including at the Pensions and Trust Department of the IRS, where he audited retirement plans. He left government service in 1960 to begin working in the nascent retirement-fund and benefits business.

In the 1960s, he was a founding member of the American Society of Pension Actuaries (ASPA).

He also was active with the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital Board, the Jewish Federation, and Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia, and on the boards of various area synagogues.

He married and was divorced from Leona Kornblau, Seslye Berg, and Joanne Hirsch.

Besides his son, he is survived by sons Scott A. and Richard J.; a daughter, Joanne M.; stepdaughters Jennifer Overton and Stefanie Cousins; nine grandchildren; and a sister. His former wives also survive.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Beth Shalom Congregation, 8231 Old York Rd., Elkins Park. Interment will be in Montefiore Cemetery.

Donations may be made to Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia, 2100 Arch St., Fifth Floor, Philadelphia 19103.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or


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