In an elevator, on the street, or in a crowded restaurant, Nathan Bregman never met a stranger who couldn't become a friend.
"He connected to everyone on this compassionate, humorous level - and I mean everyone, not just his family," daughter Lisa said.
"He could get strangers on an elevator to tell them his whole life story right there."
Mr. Bregman, 99, a Philadelphia native, a businessman, and an options trader on the city's stock exchange, died Friday, Nov. 18, at his home in Bethesda, Md., of complications from prostate cancer. Family members said he was funny and warm in his final days, despite his pain.
"He was entertaining us to the very end," Lisa Bregman said. "He was philosophizing about math, money, and life."
Mr. Bregman was the youngest of Abram and Anna Bregman's five children. He graduated from Central High School in 1932 and went on to study finance at Temple University, working at the family's tobacco and candy store, A. Bregman & Sons, throughout his schooling.
Mr. Bregman took over the store later in life and expanded the family business.
"He was in business from the time he could crawl," his daughter said.
Mr. Bregman was drafted into the Army on Pearl Harbor Day but never went abroad. He met Stella Husock while on leave, and they married in 1942, living in Texas until he was discharged.
The Bregmans settled at 21st and Spruce Streets and had four children. They later lived in Ardmore and Wynnewood before settling in Bethesda to be closer to their children.
"He lived obviously a very long life and a very full life," said their oldest child, son Randy. "We were all blessed that he lived so long. He was mentally and emotionally alert to the very end."
Mr. Bregman sold his business while he was in his mid-40s and, ever the math whiz, began trading stock options as Bregman & Mantell Inc. on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Family members said he never really retired.
Douglas Bregman said his father's career mirrored the American experience of the 20th century, from the corner market to the stock market.
"He was a brilliant guy, and he was in the vanguard of the flow of commerce," Douglas said.
Although Mr. Bregman kept busy with work, he was a nurturer at home - a "real mensch," Lisa said.
"When he had the time, he introduced each of us in a different way to the emotional side of life," added Randy.
Mr. Bregman also is survived by another daughter, Abby Wavell; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His wife died in 2013.
Services and burial were Sunday, Nov. 20.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Anti-Defamation League, 1100 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 1020, Washington, D.C. 20036, or the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Ala. 36104.