Richard Kanter, 67, of Villanova and New York City, a marketing executive who was active in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for 25 years, died of complications from the disease Tuesday, May 25, at his home in New York.
For most of his career, Mr. Kanter was managing partner of BeckerKanter, now Panzano & Partners. The company, which he cofounded in 1971, specializes in marketing shopping centers and malls.
One of his clients was Strouse, Greenberg & Co. The commercial development firm built, leased, or managed malls in 11 states. Mr. Kanter and the president of the company, Howard Abrams, became good friends.
In 1981, Abrams learned he had ALS, a crippling, neuromuscular disorder, and he became involved with the ALS Association. He recruited Mr. Kanter to serve on the board of the Philadelphia Friends of the ALS Association and later asked him to join the board of the association's Greater Philadelphia Chapter. In 1995, with Mr. Kanter's encouragement, Abrams created the association's Howard Abrams In-Home Care Program.
After Abrams died in 1996, Mr. Kanter helped establish the ALS Clinic at Pennsylvania Hospital and remained active with the ALS Association, serving as vice chairman of the local chapter's board of trustees.
"Dick Kanter helped transform the Greater Philadelphia Chapter through his leadership, wisdom, and business acumen," chapter president Ellyn Phillips said.
In a tragic coincidence, Mr. Kanter learned he had the disease in 2008.
"That Dick was struck down in the prime of life by ALS is incomprehensible," Phillips said.
In addition to his involvement with the ALS Association, Mr. Kanter served on the board of Schools That Can, a national network of high-performing inner-city schools. He also served on the MossRehab Hospital board as finance chairman and vice chairman and on the board of the Philadelphia Drama Guild.
Mr. Kanter grew up in Newton, Mass. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in communications management at the University of Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Joy Likoff.
Before establishing his firm, he worked for Kraft Foods and a mall developer.
The Kanters, who married in 1965, furnished their home in Rydal with American furniture, folk art, delft and Chinese export porcelain, and decorative accessories they collected.
They also owned a home on Cape Cod, where Mr. Kanter had spent summers since childhood. In September 2000, his wife was killed in an airplane crash with Julie Palley and her husband, Samuel, the pilot. The couples had spent the weekend on Cape Cod, and Mr. Kanter's wife was returning for the start of school at Montgomery County Community College, where she was a professor and director of the reading department. Mr. Kanter had stayed behind to close their summer home for the season.
Afterward, Mr. Kanter moved to Manhattan to be close to family. In 2006, he married Chris Markel of Villanova. The couple spent summers on Cape Cod and had a winter retreat in San Miguel, Mexico.
Though struggling with a debilitating disease, Mr. Kanter said in an interview for an ALS publication last year, "I have always been a lucky guy."
He is survived by his wife; a son, Geoff; and two granddaughters.
A funeral was held Thursday, May 27, at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York. Burial was in Cape Cod.
Memorial donations may be made to The ALS Association, Kanter Family Research Fund, 321 Norristown Rd., Suite 260, Ambler, Pa., 19002.