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Theodore S. Halpern, 83, Ran Summer Camps

August 19, 2010 By:
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Theodore S. Halpern, better known to many as "Uncle Ted," believed that nothing built a young person's character quite like summer camp.

Halpern and other family members owned and operated three camps in the Poconos, including Pine Forest, which draws a mostly Jewish clientele.

The 83-year-old Lafayette Hill resident died on July 18.

Halpern's father-in-law, Hughie Black, a professional basketball player for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, started the camp in 1931.

Halpern met his late wife Libby (nee Black) on a blind date; they were married for 58 years.

During his early years with the camp, Halpern was a hands-on director who delighted in odd jobs, including fixing equipment himself, according to his daughter, Leslee Rogath.

Gregarious and charismatic, Halpern also possessed a sharp business acumen, she said. Halpern believed that operating multiple camps in close proximity to one another could be quite profitable.

He later helped found nearby Lake Owego and Timber Tops camps.

"He was very much a people person, he was a larger than life guy," said Rogath. "He felt that getting away from home was the most important thing you do for a child. That's where character is developed. It's not a situation that you can recreate anywhere else."

Halpern served on the board of the American Camping Association. He was involved in a number of Jewish causes, included the Jewish Family and Children's Service. He belonged to Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park for more than 60 years and served on the synagogue's board.

In addition to his daughter, Halpern is survived by his son, Robert, and three grandchildren.

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