Joel Weiner, former PGN advertising manager, died April 9. He was 59.
Weiner, a native of Northeast Philadelphia, spent 12 years with PGN before retiring earlier this year.
He had been battling myelofibrosis, a bone-marrow disease, since 2000.
Weiner graduated from Northeast High School in 1968 and completed coursework at New York University before returning to Philadelphia and launching his career in advertising.
Weiner’s brother, Carl, said that in the ’70s Weiner started out as a copy boy in the administrative offices at now-defunct department store Lit Brothers but, in a short time, rose through the ranks to become the director of radio and television advertising for the company.
He later worked as the director of advertising for Panelrama, a home-improvement store chain in the area, before taking up a post as the vice president of advertising at Kiddie City, a position he held until the children’s toy store chain closed in 1993.
Weiner then chose to parlay his advertising expertise with his longtime love of the performing arts and opened his own Broadway store on Walnut Street.
Although the store was forced to shut down after only a few years due to economic factors, Weiner’s sister, Carol Kaplan, said the business exemplified her brother’s passions.
“He loved the theater, he loved movies. Anything in the arts, that was my brother,” Kaplan said. “It was a neat store. It had lots of unusual things, all related to the theater — not just CDs, but gorgeous posters and lots of other things that were truly collectors’ items. It was a neat store and was set up beautifully, and it’s a shame that it just didn’t make it.”
Although Weiner was interested in anything and everything Broadway, he was most enthusiastic about his favorite star, Barbra Streisand. Weiner was a lifelong fan, serving as the first president of Streisand’s Philadelphia fan club when he was a teenager in the mid-’60s.
“He just loved anything that Barbra Streisand was in. Anything she was in was fine with him,” Kaplan said. “When he was 15 years old he got tickets to a performance of hers, and he and my mom went to New York to see her. Barbra walked on water as far as he was concerned.”
Following the closing of his store, Weiner came to work as an advertising representative at PGN and was promoted to the head of the department in 2004.
PGN publisher Mark Segal said Weiner was an integral addition to the paper’s team.
“Joel was not only a coworker, he also was a friend,” Segal said. “He understood that our job was to create the resources so our editorial department could do its job of gathering the information that our community needs. We were so lucky to have him as part of the PGN family and will miss his humor and stories of Barbra Streisand.”
Joe Bowman, a local photographer who worked with Weiner on his advertisements for PGN, said he was the consummate professional.
“He went above and beyond and used to help me change my ad midstream sometimes,” Bowman said. “He always returned my phone calls and was a great help. Joel was terrific.”
Bowman said he and Weiner developed a friendship through their business relationship.
“He took me to lunch a few times and I’d see him at Mark Segal’s holiday parties and chat with him for a long time,” he said. “We’d both call each other to see how each other was doing. He was a very nice person.”
Weiner’s brother, Carl, said the relationship Weiner established with Bowman and many of his other advertising clients demonstrated the type of person he was.
“He was a very caring person, a very empathetic person,” Carl said. “He loved to connect to people and it was very important to him to maintain relationships with people.”
Weiner was especially committed to his family.
“He cared so much about family,” said Kaplan, his sister. “He was very dedicated to his family. For him, family came first, which was nice.”
Kaplan noted that Weiner had a very close relationship with his mother, who passed away just last month.
“The connection that mattered the most to him was with my mom, and when she passed away, he was devastated,” she said. “There’s really a hole in our family right now after losing them both in just three weeks.”
Besides Kaplan and Carl, Weiner is survived by brothers Samuel and David Weiner, father Meyer Weiner and four nephews.
Funeral services were held April 13 at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael Sacks in Southampton, with the burial following at Montefiore Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made in Weiner’s name to the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.