Albert R. Boscov, the head of the nation’s largest family-owned department store chain, Boscov’s, died in Reading, Pennsylvania on Friday. He was 87.
The head of the department store chain that bears his name, Boscov first disclosed that he had late-stage cancer on February 1. Boscov’s Department Store announced his passing in a press release Friday night.
He died at his home, surrounded by his wife, Eunice, and three daughters, the company said.
“Albert Boscov was truly one of the giants in the retail industry,” Jim Boscov, CEO of the chain and Boscov’s nephew, said in a statement. “He was a man of vision and passion and he had a profound influence on the retail business community and the community at large. We are committed to continue on the strong foundation he has created and to carry on in the spirit and philosophy he’s instilled. Building on his legacy we will remain the largest family-owned department store in the country.”
Earlier Friday, the company posted a message from Albert Boscov on its Facebook page. He thanked community members for their kind messages after he disclosed his illness.
In the note, Boscov stated, “I’ve been amazed at the amount of wonderful notes that you’ve sent and I know I don’t deserve them, but I certainly enjoyed them. “You’re a wonderful group of people that have been part of my family for 87 years and I’m most proud of all of you. Love, Al.”
The note was accompanied by a message from his family thanking the community for an “outpouring of love, concern and support” received in the last week.
As chairman of Boscov’s, Albert set new standards for successful retailing, community involvement, and civic duty. He founded and led the non-profit Our City Reading, Inc. to assist Reading in restoring abandoned homes and to bring about a resurgence to downtown. Under his leadership, more than 600 families had the opportunity to own and live in a new home. Boscov’s led the efforts to equip a Senior Citizens Center in downtown Reading; the Horizon Center provided seniors with hot meals and activities. Boscov’s also led the campaign to purchase and help equip a Community Center for the Police Athletic League. In 2006, Albert opened the GoggleWorks, the nation’s largest Center for the Arts, and also was responsible for constructing the GoggleWorks Apartments. In 2016, he opened the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel, a five star convention hotel in downtown Reading.
On April 30, 2009, Albert was commemorated in bronze during a surprise celebration in Reading. His statue is located outside of Albert Boscov Plaza, his likeness complete with hard hat, blueprints, a replica of his father’s original store, and the red pen that Albert always carried. He was surprised and pleased about receiving the honor, joking, “It’s too tall.”
Burial will be private. There will be a public memorial service announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Our City Reading Inc., GoggleWorks Center for the Arts or a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.