Harriet EG Margolis, 80, wine-company executive and civic fundraiser

Harriet E.G. Margolis, 80, a former Gladwyne resident, business executive, and fund-raiser for charitable causes in Philadelphia, died Thursday, May 17, of cancer at her home in Naples, Fla.

In 1964, she married businessman Sheldon B. Margolis. A year later, the couple established Margolis Wines & Spirits Inc., a wholesale brokerage that recruited producers of wine and spirits, then brokered the products for distribution through Pennsylvania’s liquor stores.

With her husband as president and Mrs. Margolis as its chief financial officer, the company in King of Prussia grew to become one of the state’s largest wine and liquor brokers. By 1996, the firm held 48 percent of the state’s wholesale spirits business, the family said. Two other brokers split the rest.

The company was sold on Dec. 31, 1999, to Southern Wine & Spirits.

Mrs. Margolis wasn’t just an executive with a penchant for figures. She and her husband were also dedicated civic donors and fund-raisers.

Mrs. Margolis was a patron of the arts in Philadelphia. She served on boards and donated her time raising money for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra Committee, Main Line Association of the Academy of the Vocal Arts, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

She also supported the Academy Ball Committee, which benefits the Kimmel Center.

A Catholic, she was a patron of works of art on exhibit at the Vatican Museum in Rome. In one project, she raised $250,000 to renovate a mural in Vatican City. “I know that Mom went to visit with a group from the Philadelphia Museum of Art,” her daughter Tori Margolis said.

“As true Philadelphians, they cared about the city, and state they called home, whether it was business, social, or charitable events for the medical field or the arts,” she said of her parents.

Born in 1937 and raised in Bryn Mawr, she graduated from Lower Merion High School and attended St. Joseph’s University.

Mrs. Margolis was a committed volunteer, and later, board member and president of the Women’s American Cancer Society, Philadelphia Division. She started out as an emergency aide, driving local cancer patients to their medical appointments, and later focused on the administrative and fiscal aspects of the society.

“She lent her heart and hand to encourage the patients in their treatment,” her daughter Heather D.F. Margolis said.

Mrs. Margolis paid close attention to current events. She was a longtime member of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and rarely missed a council event. In 2008, she was thrilled to meet Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under President Bill Clinton.

Also a supporter of education, Mrs. Margolis served on the board of the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Villanova.

Mrs. Margolis enjoyed the outdoors and was a longtime member of Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, and the Villanova Garden Club. She never missed the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Hilda Fox, a lifelong friend from Gladwyne, said Mrs. Margolis was “about the nicest person I ever met in my life. She was kind, generous, and never had anything but a smile on her face, and her pocketbook was open to all. You will not find anyone in the city of Philadelphia who would have an unkind thing to say about her.”

Sheldon Margolis died in 2017. In addition to her two daughters, Mrs. Margolis is survived by a son, Brian S. Margolis; six grandchildren; and a sister.

A visitation starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 26, will be followed by a 10:30 Funeral Mass at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, 31 Pennswood Rd., Bryn Mawr. Interment is in Calvary Cemetery, Conshohocken.

Memorial donations may be made to Project HOME, 1515 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia. Pa. 19130, or the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce St., Philadelphia Pa. 19103.


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