Annette Friedland, entrepreneur and philanthropist, dies at 91

Annette Yusem Friedland, 91, of Gladwyne and Jupiter, Fla., a creative entrepreneur and noted philanthropist and socialite, died Sunday, Jan. 23, of an undisclosed cause in Gladwyne.

As an artist and businesswoman, Mrs. Friedland used her creativity and lifelong love of art and textiles to produce and sell books, photo albums, and other items. She was skilled at knitting and needlepoint, and, in addition to her consumer products, made afghans, blankets, and tapestries for family and friends.

In the 1980s, Mrs. Friedland was a leader of Friends of the Fabric Workshop, a Philadelphia-based group that helped artists and craftspeople produce experimental designs on textiles. She was also interested in fashion, architecture, design, and photography.

As a patron, she and Jack Friedland, her husband of 64 years, contributed their time, financial support, and other resources to a variety of organizations in Philadelphia, New York, Florida, and elsewhere, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Museum of the American Revolution.

She was elected to the Art Museum’s board of trustees in 1990, served on its women’s committee, was a member of its fiske Kimball Society, and was cofounder of Friends of the Museum. She and her husband also endowed the museum’s Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles.

On its website, the museum acknowledges Mrs. Friedland’s “many interests, including in our collection and the work of our Costume and Textiles; European Decorative Arts; and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs curatorial departments.”

Born Sept. 13, 1930, in Philadelphia, Annette Yusem was proud that she was one of five generations of women in her family to be born and raised in Philadelphia. She graduated from Overbrook High School and met her future husband when she was 16. They married in 1948 and had sons Marc, Allan, and Rodger and daughter Sharon.

Her husband was the owner and president of the former Food Fair supermarket chain, and the couple were frequent guests at dinners, galas, balls, parties, and events in Philadelphia, New York, Florida, and elsewhere. Their names were mentioned often in The Inquirer’s society pages, and Mrs. Friedland, famous for her own grand parties, liked to cook ossobuco and used culinary tips from her friend French chef Georges Perrier.

In 1974, she was abducted from the family’s Gladwyne home and released three hours later after her husband paid a $60,000 ransom. She was unhurt, and a man was quickly arrested and served time in prison.

Mrs. Friedland was an avid golfer, skier, and boater. She enjoyed travel and the opera, grew her own tomatoes, and gave away homemade preserves. She danced to Frank Sinatra songs, followed the Eagles, and made the best hot chocolate at family gatherings.

“Her parties were pretty magical,” said her granddaughter Susan Kravitz. “She had a way.”

Mrs. Friedland was also active with several charities and at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley. “She wanted only the best and showed us how to do it,” said longtime friend Sondra Isen.

Said her granddaughter, “She was young and vibrant to the end.”

In addition to her granddaughter and children, Mrs. Friedland is survived by five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, a sister, and other relatives. Her husband died in 2012.

Services were Jan. 24.

Donations in her name may be made to the endowment of the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pa. 19130, and the Society of the Four Arts, 100 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach, Fla. 33480.

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