Jeffrey Ostrowski, 58, of Glen Mills, a physical therapist and leader in his field, died Saturday, Nov. 21, of pancreatic cancer at his home.
Known as “Jeff,” he was born in Wilson, N.C., and raised in Lancaster. He graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School in 1980 and four years later from Juniata College in Huntingdon, a borough in central Pennsylvania.
While there, he met Margaret “Peggy” Evans. “She was the one person on campus who was more competitive than he was,” the family said in a statement. They married in 1988 and raised a son and daughter in Glen Mills, Delaware County.
Mr. Ostrowski had a knack for making the people around him feel — and be — better. He became a physical therapist to help patients live a functional, pain-free life after accident, injury, or illness.
In 1986, he graduated from Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Sciences and began working for various clinics. He was licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
In 1990, he cofounded Excel Physical Therapy. The business grew to include 12 clinics in Philadelphia and the suburbs. In 2011, Excel merged with Apex Physical Therapy, which had eight suburban clinics, to form the corporate entity E&A Therapy Inc. The company is informally known as Excel Physical Therapy.
Mr. Ostrowski was a managing partner of Excel along with five others. Currently, there are 35 clinics in the Philadelphia area, according to Joe Ruhl, a managing partner and his longtime friend.
“Jeff was an enigma wrapped in a blue shirt, a sharp blazer, and skinny jeans,” the partners said in an email. “He was both a NASCAR and art enthusiast. He enjoyed only the finest wines and Miller Lite.
“He was usually the smartest guy in the room, yet never made anyone feel inadequate. Jeff was easy to love because he made you like yourself. His high expectations coupled with his ability to transfer his quiet confidence to colleagues made you believe in yourself.
“His influence on others was disproportionate to his limited time with them. It is these rare gifts that live on in the countless colleagues across the nation that name Jeff Ostrowski as the reason why they are successful.”
A leader in the industry at the state and national level, Mr. Ostrowski was the southeast district director of the Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association from 2011 to 2015 and director of the American Physical Therapy Association’s private practice section from 2011 to 2017.
“Whether it was a CEO of a health care company or a physical therapy aide, Jeff treated every individual with dignity and respect, and understood that they all had an equal share of value in this profession,” his family said.
He contributed to the advancement of his field as a mentor at work and as an adjunct professor at Drexel University. In addition, he served for five years as the editor of Impact, a magazine sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association’s private practice section.
He never retired. In 2019, he was awarded the association’s Service Award.
A dedicated fitness and health enthusiast, Mr. Ostrowski enjoyed riding a bike and playing golf, sand volleyball, and basketball.
He was diagnosed with cancer in February 2019. Before his chemotherapy treatments, he would “get down and crank out 50 push-ups, inspiring everyone around him,” his wife said. “It was his way of not letting cancer get the best of him. He never stopped fighting.”
Mr. Ostrowski was a member of the Concord Country Club, where he started a men’s book club. He liked to entertain at home with his wife. “He was a great listener and interested in all opinions and points of view,” she said.
Besides his wife, he is survived by children Curtis and Carly; his parents, Joan and Hugh Ostrowski; four brothers; a sister; and many nieces and nephews.
Services are private. A celebration of life will be held once the pandemic subsides.