Nancy Gordon Lipton, 81, antiques store owner

Nancy G. Lipton
Nancy G. Lipton
Posted: January 18, 2014

Nancy Gordon Lipton, 81, of Penn Valley, former owner of Two by Four Antiques & Collectibles, died Saturday, Jan. 11, of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Arbor Terrace at Chestnut Hill.

Mrs. Lipton was one of a few Philadelphia-area women who owned small businesses in the 1960s. She also was a wife, mother, teacher, musician, painter, dancer, jewelry maker, and volunteer.

"She had an energetic, independent spirit," her daughter Amy said. "She was a great role model for us, as women growing up in the latter 20th century, that you could be a wife and mother and still have a career."

Mrs. Lipton opened the first Two by Four shop in Merion in 1966. The name referred to the shop's tiny floor space. After a year, the store expanded and moved to a new site near Hymie's Delicatessen. The following year, it moved to a larger location on Montgomery Avenue, where it remained for 15 years.

Over the next 40 years, Mrs. Lipton opened 16 more Two by Four shops in and around Philadelphia. They were on South Street, on Main Street in Manayunk, and in Northeast Philadelphia, Valley Forge and King of Prussia. Her last store in Phoenixville, Chester County, closed in 2010 after she became ill.

Two by Four was initially a gift and card shop. But in the early 1970s, Mrs. Lipton began selling a blend of new and old merchandise that she called vintage collectibles.

"Her eclectic style was always just enough ahead of the curve to capture the public's attention, and customers were enchanted by her vision," said her family in a tribute.

Over the years, Mrs. Lipton collected thousands of strands of vintage beads. One of her greatest joys was making the beads into unique jewelry, which she also sold in her stores.

Mrs. Lipton began her career as a kindergarten teacher at the Cynwyd School in Bala Cynwyd.

She studied painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and classical piano in childhood. She enjoyed playing piano until the end of her life, despite losing most other areas of her memory to Alzheimer's disease.

In the 1960s she helped form the Junior League of Philadelphia and organized fund-raisers for the Annual Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Ball.

Mrs. Lipton loved the theater, and became active in the Main Line Temple Players, a drama company that performed at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood. She directed or choreographed Funny Girl, Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, Flower Drum Song, Pajama Game and Anything Goes, and also played the piano.

Mrs. Lipton directed children's summer theater programs for many years at Camp Green Lane in Green Lane.

Born in Pittsburgh, she graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1949 and earned a bachelor's degree in education from Pennsylvania State University in 1952. There she met Alan M. Lipton. They were married for 56 years until his death in 2008.

Surviving are a son, Andrew; daughters Amy and Jane; five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, at Mishkan Shalom Synagogue, 4101 Freeland Ave. Burial is private.

Contributions can be made to the Alzheimer's Association at Box 96011, Washington, D.C. 20090, or through



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