Cover photo for Joan Ostrum Pearlstein's Obituary
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Joan Ostrum Pearlstein

Joan Ostrum Pearlstein,
It is with much love and profound sadness that we report the passing of Joan Ostrum Pearlstein of Philadelphia on October 25th, peacefully surrounded by her family, at the age of 83.

Joan was a woman of many interests: an avid reader with an endless intellectual appetite; an active member of Beth Am Israel synagogue where her three children were Bar and Bat Mitzvah-ed; a devoted sports fan; and an athlete herself. When she wasn't playing tennis or golf, you could see her decked out in her Eagles garb rooting them on, or passionately following the Phillies. She had been a baseball fan since she was a girl in the early 1950s, when she and a friend founded and were co-presidents of the Lou Limmer Fan Club (of the old Philadelphia A's), of which they were the only two members.

Joan was the center of her extended family, to whom she was intensely devoted, and especially cherished her special relationship with her six grandchildren. As a mother she spent endless hours driving her kids to and from their practices, and watching every single game, and of course when her children had children, she went to every one of their games as well. Her generosity and love went beyond words.

Joan Hannah Ostrum was born on December 24, 1937 in Germantown, and grew up above the pharmacy that her father owned, where as a little girl she would assist making milkshakes in the old-fashioned soda fountain. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Temple University in 1958 and began teaching at Stokley Elementary School in Strawberry Mansion.

In 1960 Joan loaned a dress to a girlfriend who had a date with a young med student, and who dragged him over to Joan's house to show off the dress. Two weeks later that med student, Phil Pearlstein, asked Joan out on their first date. He and Joan went on to marry and spend 60 wonderful years together.

Joan was incredibly resilient and independent and overcame the loss of her own mother as a small child to create a wonderful life for herself, her husband, and the three beautiful children they brought up together. She and Phil loved the Jersey shore, and spent much of their free time in a house they bought in Ventnor, NJ in 1966. They also loved to travel, and did so-with and without their kids-from Europe to the Caribbean, Israel, Russia, Vietnam and all over Asia.

In addition to raising their children and overseeing Phil's medical practice, Joan always had an artistic eye and an elegant sense of style. She was a serious collector, which led to a rewarding career as an antique dealer, in partnership with one of her oldest friends. She was always active and keeping fit was a top priority for her. Every morning for 40 years Joan and her dear friend Bobbie would walk for miles, then join the regulars at Murray's Delicatessen for their usual breakfast.

Joan was always on the go and seemed unstoppable, having survived two previous cancers before succumbing to a glioblastoma. Every Mother's Day she and her son Jimmy did the Susan Komen Walk for Breast Cancer; when his kids were old enough, they began to join in. She was someone who seemed to have nine lives, including getting hit by a car without a scratch in 2019. (When Phil urged her to go to the hospital, she exclaimed: "I can't, I have to go to Pilates!" And she did.)

Joan was an intensely strong woman who always talked about how lucky she was to have such a loving and close family, and fought till the end to be with them. Because of that determination, in the last six months of her life she was present to celebrate various family milestones, including an elementary school graduation, two college graduations, her 60th wedding anniversary, and the weddings of her two oldest grandchildren. Even in her last days she was still sharing meals-and making chocolate milkshakes-watching sports, and spending lots of quality time with her family. She was very insistent how grateful she was to have had such a great life.

Joan is survived by her husband Philip, her children Robert (Cindy), Ferne (Robert Edwards), and James (Karen), her grandchildren Haley (Billy Haberstroh), Ian (Jenny), Alex, Jake, Jenna, and Eloise, and her sister Frances Ostrum Gould. She was pre-deceased by her mother Freda, her father Isadore, and her sister Shirley Ostrum Tapper.
Relatives and friends are invited to graveside services, Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 12:00PM at Haym Salomon Memorial Park, Frazer, PA. Following burial, Shiva will be observed at the residence of Cindy and Robert Pearlstein (Wednesday only). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a charity of your choice in Joan's memory. Arrangements by Joseph Levine & Sons (
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Ostrum Pearlstein, please visit our flower store.


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