Celebrating the Lifelong Friendship of World War II “Old Timers”

BROOKLYN, NY– World War II veteran Philip Stopol ’47 was honored at a plaque dedication ceremony in the Brooklyn College Library in May by his friends Irene ’47 and Howard ’47 Stein. The Steins said the plaque was but a small testament not only to a friendship that has withstood the test of time (the Stopol and Stein families have been friends for over six decades), but to the memory of every Brooklyn College veteran.

“I am overwhelmed to have received this distinction,” Stopol said. “Especially considering that as a young man growing up during the Depression, I never imagined that I would be able to attend college.”

Stopol exemplifies Brooklyn College’s enduring legacy of providing affordable access to an excellent college education, according to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Andrew Sillen. As donors, both the Stopols and the Steins embody yet another Brooklyn College tradition—that of giving back.

Through their continued generosity and engagement, both the Stopols and the Steins ensure that current and future students have access to the same world-class education they received at the college,” Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould said.

Stopol and Stein, two of nearly 1.7 million living American World War II veterans, met back in 1946 when Stopol, then 23, founded the Old Timers Club, a gathering of undergraduate, mostly Jewish students returning from war. His goal in establishing the group was to provide a community based on shared experiences and values, and create lifelong friendships between its members and their families. The enduring bond between the two families over several decades is the greatest measure of the success of those principles.

“We grew up together and have been the best of friends,” Stein said. “I could think of no one who deserved this honor more.”

Another lifelong friend who also attended Brooklyn College, Dr. Bernard Fruchtman (Irene Stein’s brother), agreed and added, “The wonderful thing about this plaque is that it is not only for Phil Stopol, who is a great guy, but it is also a tribute to friendship. And remember this: Friendship is at the top of the list of those who wish to obtain the greatest quality of life.”

Stopol is the retired president of clothing manufacturer Schrader Sport. The nonagenarian and avid golfer is also enrolled in the Hofstra Professionals and Executive in Retirement (PEIR) group and occasionally teaches classes there. The Steins are the former owners of Howard Carpet Mills, known for introducing Berber carpets to mainstream America. They are also renowned philanthropists and collectors of rare and fine art masterpieces, including an impressive collection of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec pieces housed at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

The Stopol plaque is mounted near the reference desk on the first floor of the Brooklyn College Library.

Contact: Ernesto Mora / 718-951-6377 / emora@brooklyn.cuny.edu