Harry Broadley, 89, Schmidt's engineer

Harry C. Broadley
Harry C. Broadley
Posted: March 19, 2014

Harry C. Broadley, 89, of Springfield, Delaware County, a longtime engineer for the Christian Schmidt Brewing Co. who turned the key in the lock on the brewery's final day, ending an era, died Wednesday, March 12, of heart disease at Riddle Memorial Hospital.

From 1955 to 1989, Mr. Broadley was the director of engineering for Schmidt's brewery, at Second and Hancock Streets in Northern Liberties.

In its heyday, the plant was a Philadelphia institution. Started in 1860, Schmidt's grew until by 1970 it was producing more than three million barrels of beer annually.

As engineering director, Mr. Broadley was responsible for the plant as well as the design, construction, installation, and management of the equipment and production lines.

For a while, the brewery was among the top 10 producers in North America. In Philadelphia, it was known for the jingle that aired in the 1960s on TV and radio:

Schmidt's is a dry beer, a mellow beer, a hearty beer,

Blended into one beer, a light, bright, fun beer,

Schmmm-idt's - one beautiful beer!

But competition from national breweries with even snazzier marketing campaigns and the 1983 conviction of its final owner, William H. Pflaumer, on charges of tax evasion combined to sound the death knell for the brewery. Schmidt's final "brew" was boiled up in early 1987.

Mr. Broadley stayed on alone in the building for almost three years overseeing the dismantling and sale of kettles, fermentation tanks, and bottling lines to other breweries.

"My father was sad about the fact that the brewery was ending, but he would come home and tell my mother about the places who had bought the equipment. He was very interested that the equipment was not going to be trashed," said his son, Rodger.

In November 1989, Mr. Broadley and a security guard signed their names and the date on one of the open wooden fermentation tanks that were not salable. They turned the key in the lock and left the property. That moment marked the demise of the city's last regional, independently owned brewery.

Since then, many craft beers have come forward to fulfill the city's brewing tradition. The brewery was razed and is now the site of Piazza at Schmidts, a retail, restaurant, and apartment complex.

The son of an English immigrant, Mr. Broadley was born in West Philadelphia. He was the first of his family to attend high school, graduating from Overbrook High School in 1942.

During World War II, he served in the Navy as a motor machinist mate first class on one of the small landing craft used in the Pacific and elsewhere.

After the war, he worked full-time at the brewery while attending Drexel University on the GI Bill. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical and civil engineering in 1954.

Mr. Broadley was married to the former June Laird. He enjoyed spending time with family, traveling, going to restaurants, and playing competitive volleyball in his meticulously maintained swimming pool in Springfield.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by daughter Paige Morrison; two grandchildren; and nephews and nieces.

A funeral was Monday, March 17. Interment was in Arlington National Cemetery.

Donations may be made to the "Warm and Dry Campaign" for the Church of the Holy Comforter, Episcopal, 1000 Burmont Rd., Drexel Hill, Pa. 19026.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|