Lance Allen Brusilow, shorthand business owner, former court reporter, dies at 66

Lance Allen Brusilow, 66, of Philadelphia, founder and operator of shorthand company Brusilow & Associates, died Thursday, May 13 in the University of Pennsylvania hospital from myelofibrosis, a rare blood cancer.

A self-taught man, Mr. Brusilow began as a court reporter in the Philadelphia court system. One of three sons of Thelma Brooks and Nathan Brusilow, he graduated from George Washington High School and then briefly attended Temple University, but decided college was not for him and gave forensic reporting a try.

“Lance was the best journalist I have ever had,” said retired judge Nelson A. Diaz, who worked closely with Mr. Brusilow for about five years in the ’80s and’ 90s. The two men had been in touch over the years, and when Diaz learned of his former stenographer’s death, he insisted on visiting Mr Brusilow’s family.

“He was a workaholic, more than a hard worker,” Diaz said of his soul mate. “No one else could keep up with my pace and my bad practice in terms of testing, and they could. He never objected to the long hours.

Plus, Mr Brusilow knew the best dry cleaner in town for dress shirts, he could be relied on to recommend a good sandwich shop and he was never late. By 1993, Mr. Brusilow had worked hard enough to start his own business, Brusilow & Associates.

“What a wonderful, wonderful man,” the judge said.

But more than that, Mr Brusilow’s family said, he was a Philly guy, through and through.

“He loved that everyone worked hard here. He loved that it was a blue collar city, ”said his daughter, Geneviève Brusilow. “He loved sports teams. He loved how crazy he could be at sports games, and it was okay. He loved the passion of the people here. He loved the ambiance.

“He enjoyed the passion, culture and spirit of Philadelphia and the Philadelphians,” said his son, Thatcher Brusilow.

He strutted alongside the Mummers in their annual parade even though he wasn’t, and he taught his children to do the same. He was an Eagles membership holder, was loyal to the 76ers, and firmly rooted against the Celtics. Ventnor was his coastal town. Seeing movies in the Ritz theaters was one of her favorite ‘things about the city’, ”her daughter said, using one of her phrases. He also adored the Philadelphia Orchestra and spent many evenings there on weekdays and on New Years Eve.

He also had Philly’s irreverence. Mr Brusilow’s daughter said when she and her brother were little their father designed systems to sneak into Sixers games and Mann Music Center concerts. Sometimes they would do this even though they already had tickets, which made an adventure much more memorable.

“He just wanted to be goofy,” his daughter said.

Mr. Brusilow’s nickname for himself was Lance-a-lot because that was how he did it – never half-heartedly, his daughter said.

Fascinated by his changing city and real estate in particular, Mr Brusilow “wandered” – another of his words – around the city center, his boiling charm often making him invite into homes to see, she said.

On Sunday mornings, her ritual consisted of reading the newspaper and yelling “Listen to this!” each time something caught his interest.

Even when it came to his business, he didn’t just work hard. He took part in speed writing competitions and placed himself near the top, his daughter said. And even towards the end of his life, he was proud to mentor new court reporters.

“Lance-a-lot was one of a kind and larger than life,” her daughter said. “He was warm and welcoming, a human person through and through.”

Besides his children, Mr. Brusilow is survived by his wife, Samantha Lowe; two brothers; and many other relatives and friends.

A service in his honor was held on Thursday, May 20.

Donations in memory of Mr. Brusilow may be made to the Philadelphia Orchestra, One South Broad St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107.

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