Lance Allen Brusilow, 66, of Philadelphia, founder and operator of the Brusilow & Associates stenography firm, died Thursday, May 13, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from myelofibrosis, a rare blood cancer.
A self-made man, Mr. Brusilow started out as a court reporter in the Philadelphia court system. One of three sons of Thelma Brooks and Nathan Brusilow, he graduated from George Washington High School then attended Temple University briefly, but decided college was not for him and gave court reporting a try.
“Lance was the best reporter I ever had,” said retired city Judge Nelson A. Diaz, who worked closely with Mr. Brusilow for about five years in the 1980s and ’90s. The two men were in touch over the years, and when Diaz learned of his old stenographer’s death, he made a point of visiting Mr. Brusilow’s family.
“He was a workaholic, more than hardworking,” Diaz said of his kindred spirit. “Nobody else could keep up with me and my unfortunate work habits in terms of trials, and he could. He never objected to long hours.”
In addition, Mr. Brusilow knew the best dry cleaner in town for dress shirts, could be counted on to recommend a good sandwich shop, and was never late. By 1993, Mr. Brusilow had worked hard enough to start his own firm, Brusilow & Associates.
“What a wonderful, wonderful man,” the judge said.
But even more, Mr. Brusilow’s family said, he was a Philly guy, through and through.
“He loved that everyone worked hard here. He loved that it’s a blue-collar city,” said his daughter, Genevieve Brusilow. “He loved the sports teams. He loved how crazy he could be at sports games, and it was acceptable. He loved how passionate people are here. He loved the vibe.”
“He enjoyed the passion, the culture, and the spirit of Philadelphia and Philadelphians,” his son, Thatcher Brusilow, said.
He strutted alongside the Mummers in their annual parade even though he wasn’t one, and he taught his kids to do the same. He was an Eagles season-ticket holder, was loyal to 76ers, and adamantly rooted against the Celtics. Ventnor was his Shore town. Seeing movies at the Ritz theaters was one of his favorite “‘city things,’” said his daughter, using one of his phrases. He also adored the Philadelphia Orchestra and spent many a weekday evening and New Year’s Eve there.
He had the Philly irreverence, too. Mr. Brusilow’s daughter said that when she and her brother were little, their dad devised systems to sneak into Sixers games and Mann Music Center concerts. Sometimes they did it even if they already had tickets, making for a much more memorable adventure.
“He just wanted to be goofy,” his daughter said.
Mr. Brusilow’s nickname for himself was Lance-a-lot because that was how he did things — never halfway, said his daughter.
Fascinated by his changing city and real estate in particular, Mr. Brusilow would “saunter” — another of his words — around Center City, his ebullient charm often getting him invited into homes to have a look-see, she said.
On Sunday mornings, his ritual was reading the paper and bellowing “Listen to this!” every time something caught his interest.
Even when it came to his business, he wasn’t content to simply work hard. He entered speed writing competitions and placed near the top, his daughter said. And even near the end of his life, he was proud to mentor new court reporters.
“Lance-a-lot was one of a kind, and larger than life,” his daughter said. “He was warm and welcoming, a people person, through and through.”
In addition to his children, Mr. Brusilow is survived by his wife, Samantha Lowe; two brothers; and many other relatives and friends.
A service in his honor was Thursday, May 20.
Donations in Mr. Brusilow’s memory may be made to the Philadelphia Orchestra, One South Broad St., Philadelphia, Pa., 19107.