Charles (c.1876-1939) and Theresa Adelman immigrated with their six children to Pittsburgh from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1895. They operated a jewelry store at 719 Fifth Avenue in Uptown until about 1912. The family lived above the shop before moving to Squirrel Hill, where they were founding members of Beth Shalom Congregation.
Charles and Theresa had six children, Abraham, Louis, Alexander, Anna, Julia and Pauline.
For a time, the business was known as Charles H. Adelman & Son. The “son” was Abraham Adelman (1885-1950). In 1914, Abraham married Lillian Adelman of New York City. The couple lived on Northumberland Street, in Squirrel Hill. Their son, William Ira Adelman, was born in 1916. Lillian Adelman died in October 1918, during the influenza epidemic, and Abraham raised William as a single father. He later married Celia Seder.
In 1920, Abraham Adelman founded Adelman Lumber Company, a wholesale lumber business at 908 Second Avenue. He also served as president of the Pittsburgh Wholesale Lumber Dealers Association. After his death in 1950, the business moved into the old Consolidated Ice Company building at 13th and Smallman Streets, the current home of the Heinz History Center.
After graduating from Harvard in 1936, William Adelman joined the business. In 1940, he married Meryl Jane Ruben of Pittsburgh. The couple took an extended road trip through Mexico for their honeymoon and settled down on Beechwood Boulevard in Squirrel Hill.
In 1943, shortly after their daughter Linda Theresa Adelman was born, William enlisted in the U.S. Navy. “For the past few days we have been quite busy with the Japs,” he wrote to his wife on October 25, 1944. “Apparently they do not feel that our last move was in keeping with the Nipponese design of world conquest.” He was referring to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles during World War II. While commanding PT-323 in the Battle of Surigao Strait, Adelman gave the order to attack a Japanese destroyer escort, a move that sank the larger ship. “We’re glad and proud to have you there, Billy,” the Jewish Criterion wrote after the news reached Pittsburgh.
William Adelman was killed in December 1944, when a Japanese pilot attacked PT-323. Abraham Adelman donated $750,000 to build an extension to Montefiore Hospital in memory of his son. He died just two months before the wing opened in 1950.