Miriam S. Spector, 76, of Bryn Mawr, an educator and advocate for Jewish and literacy causes, died Monday, Aug. 12, in Denver of complications from a stroke.
Dr. Spector lived in Haverford and then Bryn Mawr. At the time of her death, she was spending time at the family’s vacation home in Eagle, Colo.
Known as “Dr. Miriam” because of her many academic degrees, she had a long career in educational psychology, the study of children in an educational setting.
At various times, she served as a director of the Intergenerational Center at Temple University’s College of Education, director of long-term planning at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, and an adjunct faculty member in Temple’s department of psychology.
She also maintained a consulting practice as an educational psychologist, said longtime friend Melissa Greenberg.
Born in Baltimore, Dr. Spector was the daughter of Bernard and Ruth Benjamin Siegel. She graduated from P.S. DuPont High School in Wilmington, where the family lived, and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
She received a master’s degree in library science from Drexel University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from Temple. Her dissertation was on gender differences in learning.
Dr. Spector volunteered as a leader for many Jewish organizations. She was a former trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; an executive committee member of Women of Vision; and a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Learning Venture and of Gratz College.
In the last several years, she supported J Street, an organization in the United States that advocates a peaceful end to Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
Dr. Spector was particularly passionate about Jewish education and summer camps, Greenberg said. She was a driving force behind initiatives to enhance the experience of teachers and children involved in Jewish Learning Venture programs. Venture coordinates Jewish education in the Philadelphia area for families, including learners with special needs.
In addition to her involvement with Jewish causes, Dr. Spector put her training in library science to use as a vice chair of the board of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. For the last decade, she was chair of the Free Library’s institutional advancement committee.
“She dedicated herself to creating a philanthropic community of supporters who will sustain the library now and into the future,” Greenberg said.
Dr. Spector was also concerned about urban education and served on the board of trustees for the Young Scholars Charter School, a middle school in North Philadelphia.
“In the field of urban education, I’ve always known her as having a fierce sense of equity for everyone,” Greenberg said.
Dr. Spector married Arthur Spector in 1965. They were known in the Philadelphia and New York cultural communities as lovers of books and libraries, and art and artifacts, according to a writeup by the Rosenbach Museum and Library, an institution they supported.
“They loved the theater,” said Greenberg. “They have an apartment in New York just so they can go see theater.”
Dr. Spector was also a masterful chef, an adventurous traveler, and a voracious reader.
Besides her husband and mother, she is survived by sons Adam and Jeremy, and four grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, 1001 Remington Rd., Wynnewood. Burial is in the Jewish Community Cemetery, Wilmington.