Albert H. Erlick, 88, a renaissance man who led newspapers, acted on stage, edited books, taught at college, served in the Army, lectured widely, and loved baseball, died Wednesday, May 24, in a Florida hospital.
Mr. Erlick possessed a sparkling wit and a command of the English language, sharing a trove of stories that touched on virtually everything.
Born in Cleveland in 1928, he moved to Philadelphia with his family seven years later, embarking on a life’s journey that would put him in contact with U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, and film stars.
He was editor of the Jewish Exponent, a publication he served for 24 years until his retirement in 1994. He taught journalism at his alma mater, Temple University, and served on the board of directors of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
As a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council Speakers Bureau, he spoke to synagogues and community organizations on all manner of topics.
His idea of retirement was to return to the newsroom in 1998, commuting weekly from Philadelphia to Washington. He served more than a year as acting editor of Washington Jewish Week while the newspaper searched for a permanent editor.
He won multiple journalism awards, including those for editorials on the search for peace in the Middle East, and for a series on his interviews with refuseniks in the former Soviet Union. He was a recipient of the American Jewish Press Association award for journalistic integrity.
Before working at the Exponent, Mr. Erlick served for more than a decade as editor of Motion Picture Exhibitor, a weekly magazine that covered the film industry.
At the magazine’s Philadelphia headquarters, he interviewed the stars of the day, traveled extensively, and coordinated content among the New York, Los Angeles, and London offices.
He co-founded Center City Philadelphian magazine in 1959.
All the while, Mr. Erlick enthusiastically worked on the stage, performing in productions at People’s Light and Theatre Company, the Walnut Street Theatre, Cheltenham Playhouse, the Bourse, and Plays for Living. He toured with national productions of The Fantastiks and Julius Caesar, among others.
In 2015 he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to be close to their daughter Janet. There, in his 80s, he again took to the stage, performing in productions of Seussical and Mary Poppins put on by Florida Children’s Theatre.
He was passionate about politics, history, world affairs, philosophy, art, culture, and religion, challenging others to consider complex issues from multiple perspectives. He drew crowds to his lectures at his Florida retirement community, sharing vivid autobiographical adventures, including how he served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur as part of the first occupation force in Japan immediately after World War II.
He was undefeated in the community’s weekly Jeopardy! tournaments.
Mr. Erlick never stopped rooting for the Cleveland Indians, with the Phillies a close second. Late in life he became an accidental hippo collector, as one small figure led to more, eventually developing into a herd of hundreds.
For the Last several years he served as caretaker to his wife. They were close to celebrating 55 years of marriage before Mr. Erlick’s death.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Erlick is survived by son Kenneth; four grandchildren; a sister; and a brother.
A celebration of life will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia, 1906 South Rittenhouse Square.
Donations may be made to the Florida Children’s Theatre (www.FLCT.org) or to the International Center for Journalists (www.icjf.org).