Harry Shooster, 98, Delaware County real-estate developer

Posted: May 30, 2014

DELAWARE COUNTY residents of a certain age will remember Shooster's Drive-In Restaurant in Chester.

It was a popular hangout for teens, but it catered to everyone with an appetite for burgers, shakes and chicken in the basket.

You might have run into Bill Haley and his Comets there, the singers who were among the groups that started rock 'n' roll back in the '50s, and who had an office and studio in Chester.

The ditty, "We're boosters for Shooster's," rang out from local radio ads for many years.

And there were actual carhops who took your order in the parking lot and delivered your food to your car.

Harry Shooster, whose family opened the restaurant in 1940, a self-made businessman, real-estate broker and builder who was active in Jewish causes, died May 21. He was 98 and lived in Boca Raton, Fla.

As Chester lost industry and population, Shooster's became one of the victims of the changes. Its patronage core moved elsewhere.

But Harry Shooster never looked back. His development companies helped transform the landscape of many regions of Delaware County and environs with sizable tracts of single-family homes.

Among them was the 120-acre Cedar Grove farm in western Marple Township, which he purchased in the '80s and developed with residences.

His other developments included Hidden Cove and Providence Pointe in Upper Providence, the Knoll in Wallingford and Sunnybrae Farm in Middletown Township. Harry's developments extended to Pompano Beach, Fla., where he built the Festival Flea Market Mall.

He was born in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants Frank and Dora Shooster. He graduated from Chester High School and went on to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he was encouraged to become an artist, a lifelong hobby.

His father, who built the drive-in at 9th and Flower streets, died in 1950 at age 57. Harry and his late brother, Herman, ran the restaurant after their father's death.

Harry was proud of his Jewish heritage and devoted much time and money to supporting Jewish causes and other humanitarian activities. He served for three years as president of Congregation Ohev Shalom in Wallingford, Delaware County.

He was recognized for his philanthropy by numerous organizations, including Israel Bonds, the Israel Cancer Society, World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Federation of Broward County, Fla.

Harry was an accomplished artist, as well as a poet.

"He was a legendary gin rummy player, and knew his way around a golf course," his family said.

He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Ida; two daughters, Michele Saland and Helaine Gordon; two sons, Donald and Daniel Shooster; 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Services: Memorial service 11 a.m. June 8 at Congregation Ohev Shalom, 2 Chester Road, Wallingford. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice by the Sea, 1531 W. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, Fla., 33486, or the Jewish Federation of Broward County, 5890 S. Pine Island Road, Suite A, Davie, Fla. 33328.

comments powered by Disqus