Edward M. Posner
October 20, 1946 – February 19, 2021
Edward M. Posner died February 19, 2021 after a long and courageous battle with ALS. He was one of the great ones.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Mary, daughters Katharine Posner and Cynthia Herr (Andy), grandsons William and Henry, sister Phyllis Posner, many in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews whom he loved and who looked up to him. He is predeceased by his mischievous, adoring labs, Genny and Maddie.
Born in Philadelphia on October 20, 1946 to Beatrice Posner (nee Cantor) and Nathan Posner, Ed graduated from Amherst College and Harvard Law School. His first job was at a Doggie Diner in California where he flipped $#*! burgers for prestigious clientele and honed his skills as one of the best fried egg makers ever, to the benefit of his family years later. During a hiatus from law school, he worked on the Shapp gubernatorial campaign and as Executive Assistant to the Secretary of Public Welfare in Harrisburg.
In 1974 he found his home at Drinker Biddle and Reath, where he was an esteemed corporate litigator and recognized leader for over 40 years. At Drinker, Ed served as a managing partner, chairman of the litigation practice, and many-year host of the famous summer clambake. A life member of the American Law Institute, Ed litigated with integrity, tenacity, humility, and humor. He relished his role as the office curmudgeon, a demander of excellence and one of the last in the firm to grudgingly accept casual Fridays - but that belied his true role as a generous, caring, and beloved mentor to countless associates at the firm.
Dedicated to civil rights, Ed tried dozens of cases for the ACLU and served on their Philadelphia Chapter Board for over 20 years, battling discrimination, defending gay rights, and most famously, standing up to Mayor Rizzo in the papal platform case.
Ed loved visiting hidden corners of Italy and rolled his eyes at Mary’s attempts to speak the language. He cherished days with a mystery novel on empty Meads Bay in Anguilla. Always in search of good food and wine, he enjoyed trying the best restaurants in Philadelphia and around the world. He relished a particularly indiscreet cock’s neck and comb in Florence and savored any occasion to enjoy white truffles. Not to be dismissed, however, was his avid consumption of Mallomars, Milanos and Tastykakes.
Ed loved the Philadelphia orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera, albeit with an uncanny ability to doze through both. He was passionate about the Eagles and Phillies…most of the time. While a sophisticated follower of news and politics, he had a lesser-known appreciation for Sharknado movies, and was an unexpected source of knowledge about celebrity gossip. Despite a distaste for cold water, he spent years fishing in streams and lakes, something he shared with, and used as a not-so-secret escape from, family.
Ed’s sense of morality was unmatched. At age 5, he packed his bags and ran away, only to have his plans thwarted at the end of the block. Ed – not allowed to cross the street without an adult – had to turn back home. He continued to live with such values and honesty for the rest of his life.
Ed was known for his sharp wit – the twinkle in his eye, the zingers and the stories that emerged from his otherwise quiet spot amidst a loud dinner table of family or friends. He was a source of constant warmth, responsible for taking his daughters to many every pre-dawn swim practice and a steadfast T-ball coach to a roster of Cabbage Patch Kid-holding outfielders. His sister remembers him walking her home from school when she broke her arm and making her Halloween costume – a pack of cigarettes - when she was 6.
In recent years, Ed became a strong advocate for ALS research and services. He served on the Department of Defense committee evaluating grant applications for ALS research and, with Mary by his side, he tested robotic arms and attached electrodes to his head for the benefit of future generations.
Most of all, he supported and cared for Mary and the girls. He was – and is - loved immeasurably by them. His grandsons William and Henry brought him great joy – and he was a light in their lives, whether reading to them or racing his wheelchair against their bikes, singing the E-A-G-L-E-S fight song over FaceTime or sharing knock-knock jokes. He will forever be their beloved Grandpop.
A service is not planned at this time. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in memory of Ed to one of the charities of his choice:
ACLU of Pennsylvania PO Box 60173 Philadelphia, PA 19102 www.aclupa.org
The Posner Family Endowed Fund for ALS Patient Care at The Pennsylvania Hospital Penn Medicine Development, Attn: Mary Tong 3535 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 https://giving.apps.upenn.edu/fund?program=MC&fund=602151 Checks payable to “Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania” with “In memory of Edward Posner” written on the memo line.
The ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter 321 Norristown Rd, Suite 260 Ambler, PA 19002 www.alsphiladelphia.org