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Source of wonder, and a life well-lived

At 6-foot-5, David N. Pincus' height may have been the first thing people noticed about him, but his soaring heart is what they will remember.

Pincus, 85, of Wynnewood, died last week of leukemia after a life of sharing his success with the world.

The retired chairman of Pincus Bros.-Maxwell, a family-owned Philadelphia clothing manufacturer, Pincus used his fortune to care for suffering children and donate art works to area museums.

Moved forever by a 1984 trip to Ethiopia during which a starving child died in his arms, Pincus traveled the world to bring relief to suffering children.

Each year he went to a nation in turmoil, including Sudan, Mozambique, Haiti, Liberia, and South Africa, to help. In a 1999 stop at a camp of Sierra Leoneans, he showered children with sweets, toys, and Snoopy dolls, whipping them up into squeals of delight.

"Those things are so joyous for me," he said afterward. "I love it. The rewards are so enormous for me."

In recent years, he supported local playgrounds, hospitals, and schools.

Stephen W. Nicholas, director of pediatrics at Harlem Hospital Center, said Pincus had "an unusual degree of sheer identification with others in pain, so when something painful in the world happens, he picks up the phone and he tells you: 'I'm hurting. They're hurting. We've got to go do something.'"

Pincus grew up in a twin house on Broad Street in East Oak Lane, graduated from Central High School, was a lieutenant in the Merchant Marine, and a champion discus thrower at Penn State.

His youngest child, Leslie Pincus-Elliot regarded her father as a source of wonder. "Until this man breathes his last, he will be doing something for somebody somewhere," she said.

As he entered hospice care this month, Pincus had an assistant mail his holiday cards and gifts. It was one last generous gesture in a life well lived.