William Platt, 87, sales executive, Navy veteran of two wars

Posted: March 21, 2014

AS FAR AS Bill Platt was concerned, there's a right way of doing things and a wrong way, and anything in between is suspect.

And Bill didn't hesitate to call out anyone who violated this principle, be it politicians, government officials, greedy business executives, incompetent doctors or referees and umpires with vision problems.

He would fire off an angry letter with the slightest provocation, making it unquestionably clear how he felt about anyone who didn't abide by his code of honor and responsibility.

"He was committed to the power of one voice," said his son, Larry Platt, former editor of the Daily News. "He believed that a single voice could make a difference."

William Platt, who spent his working career in sales, a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and a devoted family man whose grandchildren could wrap him around their little fingers, died Wednesday of heart failure. He was 87 and lived in Broomall, Delaware County.

It was true that Bill Platt had strong opinions, but it would be a mistake to think he was humorless. He had a rich sense of humor that came out at unexpected times.

Like the time a Lankenau Hospital nurse noted that he was allergic to aspirin. She asked him what happened when he took it.

"I become a sex maniac," he replied. The nurse said she thought that only happened when you took that little blue pill.

"I tried that once," he said, "and all I got was a stiff neck."

He had an explanation for why Washington is so crowded: "We have 535 elected officials and their staffs and in addition there are over 13,000 corporate lobbyists to help the 535 decide what they are in favor of . . ."

He fired off a letter to the CEO of Lankenau complaining about the long waits patients had to endure in the emergency room. He suggested the official sit in a chair outside his office for four hours to see what the wait was like.

President Harry Truman was one of Bill's heroes because Truman talked about right and wrong and the illusion of gray areas.

"He became sort of a super citizen," his son said. "He was committed to the idea of citizenship. He never missed an election and was always well-informed when he wrote letters to public officials complaining about their conduct."

Bill wrote a weekly newsletter called "Platt Chat," in which he expressed his views on current events. It started as an email to some friends, and grew to have an audience of close to 1,000 subscribers.

Commenting on the Republicans' ceaseless effort to have the Affordable Care Act repealed, he wrote, "I will agree to the repeal of the act providing Congress will also repeal all their benefits, pensions, health care, etc."

Bill Platt was born in Philadelphia to Dr. Michael Platt, a general practitioner, and the former Mina Wolson. He grew up in Hammonton, N.J. He graduated from West Philadelphia High School and went on to Temple University.

At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, he should have made a good football player, but he didn't. In later years, he enjoyed tennis and was better at it.

He joined the Navy during World War II and was stationed in Seattle. He liked to say he protected the shores of the West Coast from Japanese attack.

When the Korean War broke out, he joined the Coast Guard. One of his assignments was guarding a Coast Guard ship in Philadelphia, a job for which he could see no reason.

Bill's sales career was mostly in the consumer electronics industry. He was a former branch manager of the Emerson Quiet Cool air-conditioning company, and became a vice president of Fedders Corp. after it bought Emerson out. He retired in the early '90s.

Bill was a passionate traveler and in the '70s bought a travel agency in Broomall for his family. He and his wife, the former Sondra Fishbach, traveled the world, often seeking out exotic destinations.

He was also a passionate Philadelphia sports fan who held season tickets to the Phillies, Eagles and Sixers. Like many Philadelphians, he still suffered the pain of the Phillies' 1964 collapse.

"Not an Eagles game went by that he wasn't convinced the announcers and officials were against us," Larry Platt said.

Larry called his father his "best friend, and a great Philadelphian."

Besides his wife of 52 years and son, Bill is survived by another son, Paul; a daughter, Bethann Platt; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Services: 11 a.m. today at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael Sacks Funeral Home, 6410 N. Broad St.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Temple Beth El in Hammonton, N.J.

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