Arnold Lucker, 89, of Wynnewood, owner of the former Camac Health Club, died of complications from lymphoma Tuesday at Simpson House.
Mr. Lucker grew up in the house adjacent to the Camac Baths in Center City. His father, Alexander, opened the business in 1929 as a Jewish "shvitz" - a place to sweat. The establishment offered Russian baths, which included rub-downs with soapy oak leaves.
When his father retired in the 1950s, Mr. Lucker became manager. He added a weight room and racquetball courts, replaced the small ice-water pool with a full-size swimming pool kept at higher temperatures, and made other improvements. Male patrons could get a pedicure, a haircut, and a shoeshine, play pinochle and basketball, eat a corned beef sandwich in the bath's restaurant, and whack a punching bag.
Despite the upgrades and the name change to Camac Health Club, "this was no sissy health spa. No rugs. No chrome. No leotard-clad ladies doing jazzercise," wrote Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ron Avery, a frequent patron, in a 1984 article.
That year, Mr. Lucker and his brother and co-owner, Edward, sold the club and retired. Mr. Lucker said running a round-the-clock club meant keeping about 45 full-time employees on the payroll. "It is an expensive proposition," he said.
He was a hands-on manager and would fix the pipes with his staff, his daughter Linda Leibowitz said. Mr. Lucker graduated from Central High School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He met his future wife, Pauline Actman, a big-band singer, when she went to work in Camac's office. They married in 1943. After he retired, Mr. Lucker and his wife traveled all over the world, including to Russia, their daughter said.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Lucker is survived by daughter Laurie Chafetz and three grandchildren. His wife and his brother died in 1997.
The funeral will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Levine & Son Memorial Chapel, 7112 N. Broad St.
Memorial donations may be made to Children's Hospital Foundation, for inflammatory bowel disease research, Box 827790, Philadelphia 19182.