Jay Erlichman does not lack for examples of his father’s generosity.

Number one on the list is when Richard Erlichman let his son learn to drive in his Porsche. “And he never once said, ‘Be careful,’” Jay said. “He trusted me.”

There was the time Mr. Erlichman picked up a hitchhiker and wound up lending him money. “And he never saw any of it again,” Jay said.

He doted on his seven grandchildren, cared for his five dogs, and taught his five children some tricks to navigate life’s ups and downs.

“You know that book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff?" Jay said. “He could have written that. He was the most gentle person ever. He had that typical B-type personality. You could punch him in the face, and he’d smile and say, ‘Thank you.’”

Mr. Erlichman, 88, died on Tuesday, May 11, at Saunders House in Wynnewood from complications of the coronavirus.

Born in Springfield in 1931, Mr. Erlichman was the son of Herman and Fay Erlichman. He spent four years in the Army, became an architect and designed, among other things, nursing homes. He was in charge of the family barbecues and liked to conclude the festivities by hanging out with his grandkids while nursing a vodka and cigar.

Mr. Erlichman had a sharp sense of humor and mind that kept his family laughing.
Courtesy of the Erlichman Family
Mr. Erlichman had a sharp sense of humor and mind that kept his family laughing.

He was an artist who penciled in every crossword puzzle he could find. He liked to read, sail with Uncle Murray and play video poker in Las Vegas. He collected jazz and show tunes records.

A golfer, he followed the Phillies like a religion. And he often reminded the family that their last name, derived from the Yiddish word erlekh, meant “virtuous and honest.”

“He had an amazing and sharp sense of humor and mind that kept us laughing until the end and will leave with us the legacy of living our own dreams, giving more than receiving, loving music, and having fun,” the family wrote in a tribute.

In addition to his son, Mr. Erlichman is survived by Eileen, his wife of 54 years; daughters Effie, Marcia and Holly; son Andrew; and seven grandchildren.

A celebration of his life is to be later.

— Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com