Bernard Fishman, chairman of Fishman and Tobin – a Conshohocken apparel manufacturing company – and a Jewish community leader and philanthropist, died on Feb. 3. He was 82, and resided in Bala Cynwyd and Boca Raton, Fla.
A native of Philadelphia, Fishman grew up in Logan and attended Central High School. After earning his bachelor's de- gree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, he served during World War II with the U.S. Army infantry in France.
Upon his return, he went into the family business with his father and uncle. At that time, the company manufactured only children's play clothing; it was Fishman who started the division for boys' dress clothing.
He was with the company for 65 years, and never really retired, according to his son, Mark Fishman, a third-generation president and CEO of the family business, who said that even when his father vacationed in Florida, he called every day.
He described his father as a quiet man and a business innovator, respected in the industry for being "incredibly principled and having an uncanny ability to do what was right – no matter how hard it was or what the costs were.
"He and his partner, Sylvan Tobin, were like brothers," he added. "For me, working with my father was a pleasure. He had a great sense of personal priorities, starting with his family. He was married to my mother Annabelle (nee Blank) for 56 years, and would stop and look at her, and say: 'She still looks like a young girl to me.' "
Fishman's commitment to the Jewish world was far-reaching. He served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Endowments Corporation, and as a member of its Foundation Forum, the Circle of Partners and the Legacy Society. He participated in more than 10 missions to Israel sponsored by Federation, and also served as a member of its Board of Trustees.
He was also president of Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, and sat on the boards of Akiba Hebrew Academy in Merion Station, Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia and what was then the Philadelphia Geriatric Center.
In a letter to board members, Harold Goldman, president of Federation, wrote that Fishman was a "true mensch and a dedicated community leader, someone who held helping others in very high regard. He always focused on improving the lives of others through his unyielding involvement and his generous philanthropic deeds."
Continued Goldman: "Bernie once said to me, 'This is who I am, and who I need to be. A Jew is responsible to his fellow Jews, today, tomorrow and always.' "
He also recalled how Bernard Fishman was one of 15 sponsors who helped bring a planeload of Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel.
"I remember asking Bernie what motivated him to get involved," said Goldman.
"His answer was: 'I can't remember when I got deeply immersed in the Jewish community in Philadelphia. I learned about giving from my father, and it was a lesson that stayed with me all my life."
Fishman was preceded in death by his daughter, Jane Fishman Grinberg.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by another daughter, Susan Kohen; and eight grandchildren.
Memorial contributions in his name can be made to: The Jane Fishman Grinberg Religious School, Har Zion Temple, 1500 Hagys Ford Road, Penn Valley, PA 19072.