You won’t get many results if you type Lou Habina into Google.
No Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. No online followers at all.
Mr. Habina didn’t care for the internet. Hated social media. His cell phone was practically a secret, an annoying contraption his bosses at Wells Fargo made him lug around. No contacts were stored in it.
He’s the local legend you’ve never heard of. Unless you have, in which case you’ll never forget him.
“People loved this guy,” said Gregory Montanaro, a vice president at Drexel University and former president of the Union League. “There are hundreds of people coming out of the woodwork. He has a following that’s just massive.”
Louis K. Habina, an attorney and financial adviser — and probably the loudest, most opinionated member of the Racquet Club of Philadelphia — died Wednesday, Sept. 4, after being struck by a car while walking home from the Primos train station in Secane, Delaware County.
He was 64 — although he’d often shave a few years off for those who asked.
Mr. Habina was not a boldface name in the news. He was just bold.
Raised in the Cedar Park section of West Philadelphia, Mr. Habina graduated from Central High School. He worked the late shift at a West Philly McDonald’s to help pay for his tuition at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, graduating in 1977. He later earned a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law, in Newark, N.J., and an M.B.A. from Rutgers University.
Mr. Habina, a vice president and senior premier banker with Wells Fargo, and a board member of the Philly Pops, was a hulking man who seemed to run on pints of Guinness and Montecristo Cigars.
The lifelong bachelor lived in a modest two-bedroom apartment in a blue-collar section of Delaware County. He was almost off the grid by modern standards, yet was simultaneously omnipresent, establishing a massive network of friends on both sides of the Atlantic.
“He’d be the loudest guy in the room and pull out a cigar when no one else was smoking one,” Montanaro said. “He’d say, ‘People need to like me for me.’ ”
A staunch Catholic, he seldom missed Mass. Frank Giordano, Philly Pops president and CEO, recalled that when Mr. Habina would stay at his house in Moorestown, Burlington County, he would make his way to Sunday Mass on foot.
“My wife would make him scrambled eggs and bacon and a Diet Coke,” Giordano recalled on Saturday. “Then he would walk up to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church.”
Car? Didn’t have one. Only rode SEPTA. Made his friends drop him off at 30th Street Station.
Music? Metal. Heavier the better. Went to Anthrax concerts.
Mr. Habina didn’t have many possessions, aside from a collection of nice suits from Boyds. He didn’t believe in political correctness and didn’t trust the government much, either.
“He represented everything that is contrary to the world we live in today,” Montanaro said. “What is amazing is the emotional attachment he produced in people, when he was not an emotional guy at all. People you would think would be inclined to dislike him are traumatized by him not being around.”
Mr. Habina’s love of fine food and spirits earned him the nickname “The Fork.” But despite his less-than-athletic physique, he was an accomplished racquets player — a relatively obscure sport similar to squash — and he played in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. At the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, home to one of only seven racquets courts in the U.S., he was the Racquets Chair and previously served on the Board of Governors and as secretary.
The annual stag dinners he hosted there were notorious: steak, cigars, and Scotch into all hours of the night.
Mr. Habina also mingled easily in London, where he played racquets and was curiously popular at places like the historic Queen’s Club. Mark Lupke, a friend of Mr. Habina’s for more than 20 years, recalled a trip they made to the Boodle’s club in London. Not only did everyone seem to know who Mr. Habina was, Lupke said, they also admired him.
“That,” he said, “was kind of a surprise.”
Others might recall him as … gruff. Oli Harris, a friend of Mr. Habina’s, described him on Facebook over the weekend as a “big dude with a pretty big mouth,” but also a big heart. During a trip to Montreal, Mr. Habina crashed into a young man in the racquet club, sending him tumbling.
“’Sorry, I didn’t see you there,” the man said to Mr. Habina, according to Harris. “I’m 6-foot-3 and about 300 pounds, motherf—. I’m hard to miss,” Mr. Habina responded.
Mr. Habina, a First Amendment absolutist with a libertarian bent, sold his University City home when John F. Street was elected mayor in 1999. He wasn’t a fan of the Democrat.
“He was convinced the city was going to go down the toilet,” Montanaro recalled with a laugh. It turned out to be a terrible time to sell, because the value of homes in the neighborhood later increased.
Mr. Habina was frugal — downright cheap, even — with his own expenses, but exceedingly generous with everyone else.
Joanie Keen, a compliance specialist from Center City, met Mr. Habina at a bonfire party about 10 years ago. She decided to sit on his lap. “He had an ample lap,” Keen said. She later called him with a legal problem. He talked her through it and did the research.
“We’re all still in shock,” Keen said Saturday evening. “We’re not even really processing it. It’s not registering. That this big, big personality is not here.”
His laugh is what Keen said she’ll never forget.
“It was booming, like the whole room sort of vibrated with his cheer,” she said. “It made everyone laugh and feel very at home.”
Despite Mr. Habina’s occasionally grouchy, off-color demeanor, he was also a caring, loving person, friends said.
Montanaro said that when he had to put down his 18-year-old dog, Mr. Habina demanded to go to the vet because he didn’t want Montanaro to be alone. Same when Montanaro’s grandmother died. At the funeral, it was just family — and Lou Habina.
“There was no way to keep him from coming,” Montanaro said. “He was there.”
Giordano, the Philly Pops president, said that a Wells Fargo representative called his office over the weekend and said the company intends to make a $5,000 contribution to the Philly Pops in Mr. Habina’s honor.
Mr. Habina is survived by an uncle, John J. Mehalchin.