William Spiegelman, 87, of trade-show industry

William Spiegelman
William Spiegelman
Posted: July 10, 2013

William Spiegelman, 87, of Philadelphia, a leader in the convention and trade show industry, died Saturday, July 6, of coronary disease at Hahnemann University Hospital.

He and his wife, the former Barbara Cohen, had recently moved back to Center City after retiring to their residence in Margate, N.J., in 1998. They spent summers at the Jersey Shore and winters in Palm Beach, Fla.

In many ways, the 6-foot-21/2 Mr. Spiegelman was a trendsetter. He cut a bold figure with sartorial flair to complement his good looks, sharp intellect, penchant for mischievous humor, and refined tastes, his family said.

Even his commuting routine was ahead of the curve. In 1963, Mr. Spiegelman moved his family to Merion, from which he commuted each weekday to his office in New York. The couple's four children were raised on the Main Line, so the Spiegelmans benefited from exposure to both worlds.

Born in Logan, Mr. Spiegelman grew up in a large extended family of immigrants who arrived in America from Russia and Eastern Europe by 1920.

As a boy, he learned Yiddish - sitting on his grandfather's knee - while the two read a newspaper aloud. "It was a skill and a pleasure he indulged throughout his life," said his son James.

After graduating from Central High School,Mr. Spiegelman enlisted in the Navy in 1942 at age 17. He was stationed in Houston, where he attended the University of Houston, but later served on the aircraft carrier Boxer in the Pacific during World War II. He was honorably discharged and then returned stateside where he attended classes at the University of Pennsylvania.

He met his wife through mutual friends. The two married in 1948.

Early on, he worked with his father Jacob and uncle Morris, the diamond merchants Spiegelman Bros., in their shop on Jewelers Row.

But when opportunity came calling in the early 1950s, Mr. Spiegelman switched to the nascent convention and trade-show business.

His sister Marjorie provided the link, via her husband, Solomon Katz, and his brothers, Sam and Harry. The trio hired Mr. Spiegelman to launch and manage the New York operation of their rapidly-growing business, United Exposition Service Co.

Over time, the Katz brothers and Mr. Spiegelman expanded to global markets and set an industry standard for excellence, his family said.

As a company leader, he was elected to membership in the Philadelphia chapter of the Young Presidents Organization, a global network of young executives. He remained active until he reached its age limit of 50. He retired from the exposition business in 1993.

A world traveler, Mr. Spiegelman and his wife sought out new destinations well into their 80s.

He was a devoted Philadelphia sports fan, attending the Eagles NFL championship games in 1948 and 1960, at Shibe Park and Franklin Field. He also was in the stands rooting for the Phillies in the 1950 World Series.

He was a longtime member of Har Zion Temple, a supporter of Jewish and Israeli charities, and a champion of social justice, and remained a New Deal Democrat from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama.

Besides his son and wife of 64 years, he is survived by daughters Abby Bloch, Kathy, and Suzanne, and eight grandchildren.

A graveside funeral service and interment is at noon Tuesday, July 9, at Roosevelt Memorial Park, 2701 Old Lincoln Highway, Trevose.

Contributions may be made to the Marjorie S. Katz Fund for Eldercare at Jewish Family Service of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, 607 N. Jerome Ave., Margate, N.J. 08402.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or bcook@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus