Richard Aronson, 94, founded a nonexclusive country club for middle-class families

Sophie Panzer

(Jewish Exponent via JTA) — Richard Aronson was a World War II veteran who helped build the old Liberty Bell Pavilion, which stood from 1976 to 2003, while working at the Jack Casper bricklaying company. The “Today” show aired a tribute to Aronson on June 7, the 76th anniversary of D-Day.

He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, attended Olney High School and enlisted in the Army in 1943. He was a broadcast member of Armed Forces Radio, and his family still has the glass records he used to entertain the troops.

Aronson earned four citations, including the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal for his service in India and the Good Conduct Medal.

He was discharged in 1946 and graduated from Drexel University in 1949 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He joined — and later owned — the Casper company.

“If my father did it, he did it with all his energy and all his commitment,” his son, Howard, said. “In his company, he ends up president of the organization employing bricklayers. That’s the way he was.”

That all-out approach was on full display as well in his personal life. Aronson decided he had no interest in joining an elite private country club, so he founded the Beachcomber Swim Club for middle-class families like his own.

When he wanted a Jewish gathering place in his newly Jewish neighborhood, he created the West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center.

In a photo taken by the pool with extended family, Aronson is the only adult diving right in.

“He’s not sitting on the side with his feet dangling in the water,” Howard Aronson said. “He’s the one with the tube around his stomach playing with the kids in the water.”

He died of COVID-19 on May 11 at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life. He was 94.

This article was originally published in the Jewish Exponent as part of its COVID-19 obituary coverage.

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