Herbert Wallace Levy never shied away from a challenge, an opportunity to serve, or to tell a great story.
When Herb died at age 96 on Friday, November 26th at Foulkeways in Gwynedd PA, it marked the end of a great story of a life well lived – one dedicated to family, career, country, service, and friends.
Born in Philadelphia on December 18th, 1924 Herb spent his early years growing up in the Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia. Then Atlantic City was a go-to vacation spot, and it was there that he learned how to fish alongside his parents Abe and Jeanette, and his younger brother Dick.
During his high school years, as a summer waiter at a camp in the Poconos, he dropped a tray of Boston Cream Pies on a young Counselor in Training (CIT), Florence (Floss) Feldman. A courtship began and flourished through his first year at the University of Pennsylvania, and his service in the US Army from 1943 to 1945 as an Engineer specializing in topography, architecture and demolition. Upon his return from the War, Herb completed his Bachelor Degree in Architecture and married Floss on June 6, 1948. Subsequently, he joined his father at Abraham Levy Architects. For nearly 30 years, Herb was integral in the design of many hospitals, schools and other civic buildings, including: Philadelphia International Airport, Einstein Hospital, Moss Rehabilitation Center, The Locust Club, Robin Hood Dell, WFIL TV Studio, Eagleville Hospital and numerous Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Centers.
In 1975, he returned to the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a Masters Degree in Material Culture in American Civilization. He then joined the Philadelphia firm GBQC Architects, where he worked for another 16 years on projects such as the Biomedical Research Building at Hershey Medical Center, Veterans Administration Hospital (Lyons, PA), the Navy Outpatient Facilities at the Philadelphia VA Hospital, and Alabama Power & Light in Birmingham.
In addition to his design work, Herb served as an Architectural Advisor to the Philadelphia Historical Commission; President of the Pennsylvania Society of Architects; the National Director of the American Institute of Architects (AIA); a member of the Joint AIA/White House Advisory Group; a Lifetime Regent of the American Architectural Foundation; on the Preservation Board of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission; and Vice Chair of AIA HABS/HAER.
In his eighties, following his architecture career, Herb served for a decade as an Historic Preservation Disaster Assistance specialist for the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, and volunteered on various township and regional growth and preservation committees, including the National Historic Landmark - Graeme Park, as a Board Member of Eagleville Hospital and Board Member and Chairman of the Lower Gwynedd Township Planning Commission.
Herb was honored for his contributions to the Architectural profession as well as historical preservation work, with the John Harbeson Award for his service to the Profession of Architecture from the Philadelphia AIA, a Public Service Achievement Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, and election as a Fellow by the American Institute of Architects.
In 2008, the government of France awarded Herb with a ‘Chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honor for his military service. It was with Floss’s urging in 2009 that he finally opened up about his service and penned his memoires for his children. In 2014, he was a special guest of the French government for the 75th Anniversary of D-day, bringing him back to the beaches of Normandy for the first time since June 1945.
Herb and Floss had three children, of whom they were very proud, and who gave them the blessing of grandchildren: Jason Lamoreaux and Samantha Levy Szygiel. Although Herb was sadly preceded in death by his wife Floss, his son Bob and his daughter Carol, he remained extremely close to his daughter Jo-Anne Levy-Lamoreaux and her husband Brian Lamoreaux. Herb also maintained a close circle of friends, family, and colleagues throughout his life, ultimately coming to revel in his casual social interactions, especially for the past 15 years with his friends at Foulkeways, whether a large dinner group at the Meadow Café or small breakfast gathering of the Socrates club.
Never without a book in hand, Herb fed his intellectual curiosity through reading – especially historical works about Early America, and Philadelphia, the Civil War, both World Wars, as well as leaders in those periods. His intellectual curiosity also led to years of travel with Floss; often in the company of various friends. Eventually, they settled on Italy, making an annual autumnal pilgrimage to Siena, Florence, and the rolling hills of Tuscany. A few years after Floss passed, he made one final visit to Tuscany with his great friend Judy.
The consummate architect and archeologist, Herb left his mark wherever he went, including in the dirt basement of his and Floss’s 1700’s log cabin home, where he would dig for artifacts. He would bring a smile or a laugh with a story or a joke (delivered with perfect comedic timing), provide thoughtful advice, and he would willingly share his opinions on a range of topics, from the horses he bought his daughters when they were young (naming the first horse “Dad’s a Fool”) to technology and computers which, despite his claims to the contrary, he could never quite figure out how to use.
Funeral services will be held graveside at 1:00pm, Friday December 3, at Shalom Memorial Park, 3573 Pine Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006.
For the years of exceptional love and care Foulkeways provided to Herb, we request that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to:
Foulkeways Monthly Support Fund
Attn: Andrea McCabe, Development Office
1120 Meetinghouse Rd.
Gwynedd, PA 19436-1015
Arrangements by Shaeff-Myers Funeral Home.