Edward K. Asplundh, 88, a businessman who led his family’s tree-service business and worked with numerous local hospitals to improve health care in his community, died Thursday, Dec. 31, at Abington Memorial Hospital of complications related to coronary artery disease.
Born in Philadelphia in 1932, Mr. Asplundh graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 with a degree in accounting. During his time in college, he served in the Air Force ROTC and entered the Air Force as a second lieutenant in 1955. Mr. Asplundh spent three years as a pilot, flying out of bases in Tucson, Ariz., San Angelo, Texas, and Dover.
After he returned to the Philadelphia area in 1958, Mr. Asplundh began working for the Asplundh Tree Expert Co., a family-owned pruning business for utilities founded by his father and uncles in 1928. He served as president of the company, which is based in Willow Grove, from 1982 to 1992.
Mr. Asplundh lent his business and utility expertise to various health-care organizations in the area, including Abington Memorial Hospital, because of an interest in health that began early in his life, said Jacqueline Asplundh, his daughter.
“He grew up during the polio epidemic and was very fascinated by germ theory,” she said. “He’s always had a scientific mind, and both his parents were involved at Abington.”
During his involvement with Abington, Mr. Asplundh raised $20 million for nursing scholarships for the Dixon School of Nursing and served on the hospital’s board for 19 years. In 2002, he chaired the hospital’s five-year campaign to raise $50 million to build a new wing. He also supported Doylestown Hospital, Holy Redeemer Hospital, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when he chaired the Asplundh Foundation Board.
“It’s impossible to adequately put into words what Ed has meant to Abington,” Jill Kyle, senior vice president for regional advancement at Abington-Jefferson Health, said Friday in a statement. “His generous contributions to our safety and quality program will make a difference for many decades to come.”
While many of Mr. Asplundh’s contributions were top-down, he also paid attention to the experience of individual employees at Abington Memorial Hospital, his daughter said. When her father noticed that Abington nurses, unlike doctors, were unable to attend professional conferences, he began paying for a group of nurses to go to Florida annually and receive professional development, she said.
“My dad was a very compassionate person in that way,” she said. “He was working with people at the top to get things changed, but he also cared about people doing the work at the bottom. He was ahead of his time in that way.”
Outside of his involvement in health care, one of Mr. Asplundh’s favorite hobbies was flying. He continued to do so privately into his late 70s.
“One of the greatest passions of my life has been aviation,” Mr. Asplundh wrote in 2012. “The happiest days of my life were spent as a pilot in the United States Air Force, serving my country and doing what I loved — a wonderful combination.”
His daughter said that outside of work, her father also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was an incredibly supportive dad, she said.
“He just connected with the exuberance and innocence of childhood,” she said. “And all my sisters felt as if they could bring any problem to him and he would listen. He was an all-around good guy.”
In addition to his daughter Jacqueline, Mr. Asplundh is survived by his wife, Gwendolyn; three other daughters, Jill, Barbara, and Bethany; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; a sister, Emily Jane Lemole, and a brother, Carl Asplundh Jr.