Prominent gay Philadelphia attorney and philanthropist Marvin Lundy died last week. He was 80.
Lundy, who died Dec. 1 of heart failure, was one of the city’s top personal-injury lawyers who practiced in Philadelphia for more than 50 years.
Lundy founded Lundy Law in partnership with two other attorneys, and the firm has since expanded to include seven offices throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Lundy grew up in the area that is now Northern Liberties and graduated from Central High School before serving in the U.S. Army. He earned his bachelor and law degrees from Temple University in the 1950s.
His nephew Leonard Lundy, managing partner of the firm, said his uncle’s humble beginnings fueled his passion for the law.
“He grew up in a very poor neighborhood and lived on top of his parents’ butcher store. The neighborhood was Eastern European immigrants, and I think he recognized how difficult it was for underprivileged people to have a voice, so he wanted to be that voice for those people,” Leonard said. “Those are the people he represented — it didn’t matter where they came from, their lack of education, their poor dress or even poor hygiene. They hugged him, he hugged them and some of them named their babies after him. He was so passionate about his clients.”
Throughout his career, Lundy was an active member of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Bar Associations, American Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Foundation and Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Associations for Justice, for which he served on the board of governors and as director, respectively.
Among his myriad legal accolades are the Pennsylvania Association for Justice President’s Award and the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association President’s Award.
His community involvement was not just limited to the legal field, however, as Lundy was a member or board member of more than 35 organizations throughout the area, including agencies devoted to the arts, sciences, history and religion.
In 1989, Lundy served as co-chair of a VIP reception that preceded the Evening of Cha Cha, an annual fundraiser for the Philadelphia Endowment for AIDS, and used his myriad contacts to bring in new donors and supporters.
“Marvin was very philanthropic, so we met with him and told him we needed to raise money for AIDS organizations,” said Heshie Zinman. “He was really tied into the Art Museum and the Franklin Institute so when he agreed to be co-chair we were able to bring in so many people that we were never able to reach before. He literally just took out his phone book, provided his secretary to work on things, and when Marvin asked you to be on a committee, to come to an event, to give money to support a cause, you did it.”
The inaugural VIP reception raised $40,000 and Lundy was involved for several years in making the event a staple of the Endowment’s fundraising efforts.
“Marvin was very holographic,” said Curtis Roth, Lundy’s partner of 35 years, on his ability to fuse together the many facets of his life. “He wasn’t myopic in the way he looked at things. If he had a charity event, he involved his office, and just used every resource he could to pull into a project. That was Marvin, he just took on everything 100 percent.”
Roth said Lundy supported him in his own work on behalf of such agencies as the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutritional Alliance.
The two were acquaintances in the 1970s and got into a discussion one night while out at a social function that led to their lifelong partnership.
“We had a pretty interesting conversation that night and then all of a sudden two years later, I looked back and we were in this relationship,” Roth said, noting that he and his partner were the perfect complement to one another.
“We would always agree on the end point of something but when it came to our methods of getting there, we would fight tooth and nail,” Roth said. “He had certain skill sets in dealing with the world and I had other skill sets, but we basically saw the world with the same outlook, and I think that’s what kept us together for so long.”
Lundy was a family man and, as members of his large family began moving throughout the country, he and Roth hosted numerous family functions, including at their Jersey Shore house.
“Especially in the last five years, we saw his family drifting apart so we had reunions at the beach and made sure Sedars were continuing. He spent a lot of time and energy to show his family the importance of being a Lundy. If you’re a Lundy, you’re a Lundy as a unit.”
In addition to Roth, Lundy is survived by brother Albert and sisters-in-law Claire and Libby and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and six siblings.
Burial was private.
Contributions in Lundy’s name can be made to the Anna and Samuel Lundy Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, 272 S. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.
Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].