Joseph W. Schubert, 73, of Voorhees, a former banker and lifelong Mummer who served as executive director of the Mummers Museum and founded the Mummers Choir, died of lung cancer Thursday, May 20, at Samaritan Hospice in Marlton.
As a boy growing up in South Philadelphia, Mr. Schubert was familiar with Mummers, but they weren't something he particularly aspired to be - until he tried on a Mummers outfit.
"I just put on a costume and said, 'This is something I'm going to do for the rest of my life,' " he told an Inquirer reporter in 1993.
As a 12-year-old, Mr. Schubert joined the Comic division, which fitted his "ultimate extrovert" personality, those who knew him said.
He graduated from Southeast Catholic High School in 1955 and attended Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.
By 1958, he was working in the transit department of First Pennsylvania Bank, sorting checks by hand, said former colleague Harvey Bessonett of Shohola, Pike County.
Even as a serious banker, Mr. Schubert continued to be an active Mummer. In 1959, he met his future wife, Mary Anne Knight, at a Mummer party. That same year, he switched from the Comics to be a Golden Crown Mummer in the Fancy Brigades. He was captain of the Golden Crowns for many years, his family said.
Mr. Schubert and Knight married in 1965, and in 1976, the family moved to Voorhees.
While balancing his full-time job, Mummer duties and a family, Mr. Schubert managed to work his way up in everything he was involved in.
He quickly became the bank's representative at international conferences. He traveled for three weeks at a time to Japan, London, Switzerland, Italy.
As a Fancy Brigades captain, Mr. Schubert made some creative changes that still stand today, said Bob Finnegan, a Mummers costume designer.
"They used to only do military drills. . . . He enjoyed dancing and brought it to the brigade," Finnegan said, adding that Mr. Schubert also introduced scenic backdrops.
One of his brigade's first place prizes was for a "dancing through the seasons" theme, Finnegan said.
In 1979, Mr. Schubert, who also loved to sing, started the Mummers Choir and led the group until the early 1990s.
He retired in 1991 from the bank as vice president and international funds manager. That same year, he retired from active duty with the Mummers.
In 1993, Mr. Schubert was selected to be the Mummers Museum's fifth executive director since the museum's opening in 1976.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Schubert is survived by son Joseph, daughters Beth Pileggi and Nancy Rooney, and six grandchildren.
A viewing will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 25, at Murphy-Ruffenach Funeral Home, Third and Wolf Streets. A Funeral Mass will follow at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 2319 S. Third St. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon.