Karl H. Spaeth was born March 12, 1929, the third son of Lena Link and Edmund B. Spaeth. He was beloved by his family, highly respected by his peers and led a life of purpose and service by pursuing things he found important. He was kind, measured and incredibly knowledgeable. He filled a room with his presence but never overpowered it. He valued both mental and physical challenges and pursed both his entire life.
He was educated at Germantown Friends School, Haverford College, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School. Later he studied music at the Plymouth (MA.) Music School, and the Salzburg Mozarteum.
He started his career as a lawyer in private practice with a Philadelphia law firm, but within a few years moved into the corporate world, serving as Counsel for Foreign Operations at Scott Paper Company, followed by nearly 30 years as Vice President, Corporate Secretary, and Chief Legal Officer of Quaker Chemical Corporation. Professionally, he served for many years as Chairman of the Section on International and Comparative Law of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council. He ran for political office, resulting in service as a Township Supervisor for six years, and Chairman for four years. He served on active duty with the Navy for five years as a line officer, then switched to the Judge Advocate General's corps after law school and remained active in the reserve forces until retiring after over 21 years of service, with the rank of Commander.
In addition to his professional career, he kept busy with numerous non-profit organizations. Serving twice as a church vestryman, Chairman of the Board of Chestnut Hill Academy, Executive Secretary and later Chairman of the Philadelphia Committee on Foreign Relations, an Overseer of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, a Director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Founding Chairman of what now is the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, a Director of the Settlement Music School and Chairman of the Germantown Branch, Chairman of the Quaker Chemical Foundation, Director and Secretary of the German Society of Pennsylvania, where he also served as the Chair for the Society’s music committee.
Karl was not only a Renaissance man but a very gifted athlete. In his younger years he was a state champion fencer, accomplished figure skater, and All American soccer player, a sport he continued to participate in until he was 50. He was a member of the Philadelphia Cricket Club where he also enjoyed playing tennis, paddle tennis, and golf. He loved skiing, sailing, and took up rowing later in life with his wife, Ann, as a member of the University Barge Club.
He passed away peacefully of natural causes on April 11, 2020. He is survived by his three sons Karl Henry Spaeth Jr, Edmund Alexander Spaeth, Christopher Philip Spaeth and his brother George Link Spaeth. He had nine grandchildren: Emma, Hannah, Lauren, Martha, Gunner, Collin, Phoebe, Dirk and Lily.
In Lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to the German Society of Philadelphia at 611 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123. Services will be determined at a later date.
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Services for Karl Spaeth
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