Kurt Herman, 85, one of 50 Jewish children rescued from the Nazis in Vienna by a Philadelphia lawyer and his wife and who spent his life talking about the Holocaust and his experiences, died Saturday, Dec. 13, of mesothelioma at Abramson Center for Jewish Life in North Wales. He lived in Willow Grove.
After the rescue, Mr. Herman was eventually reunited with his Polish father and German mother, who had settled in Allentown. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University, worked as a certified public accountant, and married his wife, Rosalyn, in 1953. The couple lived for 50 years in Pine Valley, in Northeast Philadelphia.
Mr. Herman was chief financial officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for a decade. He also served as chief financial officer of the Jewish Community Centers in Philadelphia, his wife said.
Mr. Herman held finance positions at various companies, including Sylvan Pools, Philco Corp., and Spencer Gifts. "He was a very busy fellow," Rosalyn Herman said, "and he did a great deal of volunteer work."
For 25 years, Mr. Herman taught accounting and finance during evening school at Rutgers-Camden.
The rescue mission launched in 1939 by Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus to save 50 Jewish children from the Nazis was the subject of an HBO documentary, 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, which was shown in April 2013.
"They brought 25 girls and 25 boys to the United States," said daughter Gayle Sorkin. She said her father lived with a foster family in Allentown until his parents were able to travel to the United States.
"For years, no one ever talked about this. When Schindler's List came out, all of a sudden," his daughter said, "people were interested in the Holocaust."
After he retired, Mr. Herman became active in the Holocaust Awareness Museum at the JCC in Northeast Philadelphia.
"He was one of the survivors who spoke at schools and churches and organizations for years. He spoke to thousands of kids and adults and told them his story," Gayle Sorkin said.
"He always used to say that he was one lucky guy because he came to this country with nothing, and with hard work, he got an education and made a wonderful life for his wife and his children."
After graduating from Penn State, Mr. Herman served in the Coast Guard, and he and his wife lived for a time in St. Louis. He was an athlete and was always there for his family, said Sorkin.
"My father never missed a basketball game, a field hockey game, a dance recital. He was a real family man," she said.
"He was an athlete well into his 70s. He would go to the JCC and shoot 100 foul shots in a row. He threw out the pitch at a Phillies game. He's been honored by the 76ers."
Daughter Shari Glauser said: "He was a well-rounded, brilliant man. Most grandparents are figureheads, but he was an active leader of our family. No financial decision was made without discussing it with him. He was so smart."
Besides his wife and daughters Gayle Sorkin and Shari Glauser, he is survived by a third daughter, Elise Baylson; six granddaughters; two grandsons; and two great-grandsons.
The funeral will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael Sacks on Second Street Pike in Southampton. Interment will be private. Friends may call for shivah at the Hermans' former home in Pine Valley.