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Edward H. Rovner, 90, Labor Leader, World War II Vet

October 29, 2009
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Edward Rovner

Edward H. Rovner, 90, a labor leader and Jewish activist, died Oct. 22.

Rovner was born in Philadelphia but raised in Atlantic City, N.J., where he graduated from Atlantic City High School. He was a veteran of World War II, instructing servicemen on the installation of radar for the U.S. Air Force.

Upon his return to Philadelphia, Rovner worked his way up from a waiter to a labor leader and business agent for Local No. 568, which later became known as the International Hotel, Restaurant & Bartenders Union, where he served as an administrative assistant to the president of the Union until he retired at age 65.

He was the secretary and business manager for Local No. 434 of the Waiters Union. He also chaired the AFL-CIO's Jewish Labor Committee and was president of Histadrut, an Israeli Labor organization.

Prior to his becoming a labor leader, Rovner was a captain at the Hunt Room at the former Bellevue Strafford Hotel, where he met many leaders, including presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. He served as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1967.

Rovner was active in many Jewish causes. He served on the board of the Neighborhood Center, now known as the Jewish Community Center, and also chaired the Jewish Labor Committee in past years. He helped raise millions of dollars for Jewish causes.

He started one of the first organized Little League baseball teams, known as the Oxford Warriers, in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County.

Rovner is survived by his wife of 67 years, the former Bess Grossman; daughter Bonnie Landis; sons Bob Rovner and Howard Rovner; sister Helen Kurtz; five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

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