Dr. Sylvain Boni, Holocaust refugee and Blue Bell resident, has died at 92

Dr. Sylvain Boni, a Holocaust refugee and a resident of Blue Bell, died on November 13. He was 92.

In the 1940s, his mother and two brothers fled their home in Paris and moved throughout Eastern Europe to avoid Nazi capture, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported. He was 13 years old at the time.

He later arrived in Philadelphia after boarding an Army transport ship in Italy with 982 refugees. They were driven to Canada and walked over the United States border, his son said.

Dr. Boni graduated from Central High School and went on to Temple University where he played on the Owls’ 1952 national championship soccer team. He married in November 1954.

He earned at PhD in existential philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in 1981 and taught night courses about drama and bioethics at LaSalle University and Beaver College (now Arcadia University). 

He was also the Director of Har Zion Day Camp, Camp Arthur, and other summer camps, according to his obituary.

“My dad was universally loved and respected for his intellect,” Mike Boni, his son, told the Exponent. “He wrote his doctoral thesis on [Jean-Paul] Sartre. But was also a down-to-earth guy. I’ve gotten an outpouring of cards and emails from his students saying he made a real impact on their lives.”

As an adult, Dr. Boni wrote a 45-page journal detailing his family’s relocation experience. His brother, Claude, died in February 2022.

For the full story by the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, you can click here.

Photos: The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, courtesy of the Boni family