Henry Weitz, opera singer and florist, dies at 86


Henry Weitz, a long-time member of the Philadelphia LGBTQ community, died July 12 after a long illness. Born in Brooklyn, Weitz lived in Philadelphia most of his adult life.

“He will be forever known as a kind and gentle soul,” his memorial page reads.

The 86-year-old managed the Lankenau Hospital Gift Shop. Staff, patients and families knew him as charming and courteous, often entertaining them with stories. Weitz also performed in several Philadelphia operas and managed several opera companies throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

His many performances are listed in Opera in Philadelphia: Performance Chronology by Frank Hamilton.

Weitz spent time working as a florist, and enjoyed traveling with James Macleod, his husband of 38 years, James Macleod.

In his later years, Weitz was interviewed for the series “Gay and Gray,” which focuses on the difficulties LGBTQ people face in predominantly-straight nursing homes and assisted care facilities. In October 2018, Weitz was featured in an Inquirer report on how the retirement housing industry is learning to help LGBT seniors.

Weitz told the Inquirer that caring for his seriously ill husband was a full-time job, and he’d had to relinquish any activism efforts.

Weitz and Macleod moved to Rose Tree Place in Media in 2017, when both men became more frail. The couple chose Rose Tree because it was near friends.

Weitz commented that unlike many similar facilities, the food was good. According to the Inquirer report, Rose Tree is among a growing number of retirement communities and aging organizations seeking certification from SAGE (Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders) to show they are inclusive — or are at least raising awareness of — LGBT residents needing special care.

When the couple moved in, Weitz said he wasn’t too concerned how straight residents at Rose Tree would treat him and Macleod as a gay couple. “If anybody talked behind my back, two things: I didn’t know and I didn’t care.”

Weitz said he was glad Rose Tree recognized LGBT residents might need special attention. “I think it would be very good for Rose Tree,” he said of the SAGE training.

Macleod, who survives his husband, continues to live at Rose Tree.

Weitz is also survived by his brother, Harvey, his sister-in-law Tanya, his niece Michele, and his nephews Paul, Andrew, and Eric. He was preceded in death by his brother Sidney, his sister-in-law Marilyn, and his parents Paul and Jennie.

Services for Weitz were held July 18 at Joseph Levine and Sons Memorial Chapel in Broomall. The space’s website hosts a memorial page to Weitz where friends and colleagues can leave remembrances.

Donations may be sent to Imago Dei MCC in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, or to The Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. 

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Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.