WHITPAIN >> The Whitpain Township community is mourning the loss of a former township manager.
Phyllis Lieberman, who served as Whitpain’s township manager from August 1981 to December 2010, died Aug. 11. She was 73.
Lieberman, of Elkins Park, died at Einstein Medical Center in Elkins Park due to complications resulting from an earlier fall, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Originally from Philadelphia, Lieberman worked as a school teacher before going back to school to receive a master’s degree in public administration, according to Ambler Gazette archives. She joined Whitpain Township as its assistant township manager in April 1980. What was supposed to be a temporary six-month position extended over a year, and she stepped up to the manager post in August 1981.
During her 29 years as the township’s top administrator, Lieberman oversaw the township’s transformation from a rural, often overlooked suburb to a hotbed for businesses and a highly desirable place to live.
“Over the years, for a little community, we’ve been recognized nationally as one of the best places to live,” Lieberman said during an April 2010 interview with The Ambler Gazette. “For the longest time, people didn’t really know who we were, and we have brought ourselves into the main scheme of the Philadelphia area.”
During her tenure, the township’s population rose from 11,772 residents in 1980 to 18,875 in 2010, according to information from Whitpain Township.
As her time as township manager wound down, Lieberman pointed to the township’s parks system as the area she was proudest of having worked to improve.
“[Wentz Run Park] really gets used a lot by people of all ages,” she said. “It’s really been the greatest pleasure. Because we’re a township and we don’t have a downtown, that’s the place where people come together. It gives us a real sense of community. The park system is something we’re pretty proud of.”
Lieberman said her favorite part of the job was having the chance to meet so many residents and colleagues.
“I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most wonderful people in the whole world — elected officials, people who work in this building, residents, business owners,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d have had the opportunity to be with these type of people if I didn’t have this job. I’m lucky to have the people here who all care about providing the township with the best services. When you’re surrounded by people like that, you can get up each morning and be excited to go to work.”
Lieberman stepped down from the township manager post at the end of 2010, handing the reins to current Township Manager Roman Pronczak. She remained with Whitpain for another year, working on strategic planning and special projects, before retiring at the end of 2011 following a total of 31 years with Whitpain.
Lieberman served as chair of the Montgomery County Consortium of Communities, president of the Southeast Pennsylvania Managers Association, vice president of the Association of Pennsylvania Professional Managers and a board member for the Montgomery County Solid Waste Authority, according to the Inquirer. She also was involved with the Germantown Jewish Center and the Rotary Club of Blue Bell.
“Phyllis was not only dedicated and passionate about the Township, but she was always compassionate to residents and employees,” Township Manager Roman Pronczak said in an email from the township announcing Lieberman’s passing. “Perhaps her greatest legacy is the positive impact she made on the staff here at Whitpain Township.”
“As we reflect on the wonderful contributions Phyllis made to our community, our thoughts and prayers are with her family; her memory will be a blessing to us all,” board of Supervisors Chairman Adam Zucker said. “The Board will look for an appropriate way to memorialize her legacy in the coming weeks and months.”
She is survived by her husband, Max; two sons, Neil and Matthew; two grandchildren; and a sister.
Funeral services were held Aug. 16 at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks in Philadelphia.