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Phoebe Resnick, writer, and marketing and public relations whiz, dies at 85

One colleague called her a “true communications maven with experience, savvy, contacts, and friendships that all combine to make her the ‘best of the best.’”

Mrs. Resnick and her husband, Myron, were married for 64 years.
Mrs. Resnick and her husband, Myron, were married for 64 years.Read moreCourtesy of the family

Phoebe Resnick, 85, of Wallingford, a writer, longtime public relations and marketing whiz, and former head of public information at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, died Saturday, Sept. 25, of lung cancer at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

“Everybody knew Phoebe,” said her daughter, Rosalind Resnick.

And Mrs. Resnick seemed to know practically everyone in Philadelphia. Adept at publicizing projects about art, culture, history, music, entertainment, academics, politics, and anything else she sought to extol, Mrs. Resnick represented her clients with energy and enthusiasm.

“She was a total bulldog in promoting others,” her daughter said.

One colleague called her a “true communications maven with experience, savvy, contacts, and friendships that all combine to make her the ‘best of the best.’”

During her seven years, beginning in the late 1970s, at what is commonly known as the Penn Museum, Mrs. Resnick publicized countless events and personalities, coordinated special programs, directed tours for media and others, and served as museum spokesperson.

She created campaigns that propelled Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass, and the publication by Penn of the first Sumerian dictionary, into wide public awareness. She was also the go-to person for comment throughout 1981 as the museum had to briefly close and tighten security after a series of high-profile thefts.

“It’s very distressing,” she told The Inquirer in May 1981 about a stolen 19th-century Japanese porcelain horse.

On July 15, 1986, the Daily News reported that Mrs. Resnick, then 50, was shaking up her world: “Striking out on her own is Phoebe Resnick, who has left her post as first flackette for the University Museum to open her own PR and marketing shop, Resnick Communications, at 1701 Walnut St.”

As owner of her own company, Mrs. Resnick worked with Moderne Gallery, the Center for Art in Wood, Thos. Moser furniture, the Main Line Antiques Show, and other clients. She also volunteered to promote some city-sponsored events that needed a jolt.

Clients called her work “spectacular” and praised her “breadth and depth of expertise” in online tributes. “It was never about the money,” her daughter said of Mrs. Resnick’s professional motivations. “She believed passionately in her clients.”

She was on the board of trustees of the Greater Philadelphia Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs, the advisory council of the Community Design Collaborative, and a member of the Cosmopolitan Club, Philadelphia Public Relations Association, and Public Relations Society of America.

Inspired by youth programs, she volunteered to teach writing for the Mighty Writers, and promoted the Daily News’ Kid Reporter program for aspiring young journalists.

Earlier, as cultural affairs director at Delaware County Community College in the 1970s, she arranged unique campus events, including appearances by emerging entertainers Penn & Teller, and rock musician George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

Born July 9, 1936, in Brooklyn, she moved to Louisville, Ky., when she was 5. She graduated from the Kentucky Home School for Girls and then Wellesley College with a bachelor’s degree in English and literature.

She met Myron Resnick, a medical student from Philadelphia, while working at a summer camp in Wisconsin, and they married in 1957. She worked as a features writer at Scholastic Corp. and moved to Philadelphia when her husband became a doctor in the city.

They lived in Philadelphia and then Broomall, and raised their daughter and sons Bruce and David.

Mrs. Resnick overcame a bout with breast and lung cancer 28 years ago, and spent the rest of her life encouraging others to overcome their obstacles, and publicizing their achievements.

“One of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve ever met,” one of her friends wrote on Facebook.

“A shining light,” wrote another.

In addition to her husband and children, Mrs. Resnick is survived by eight grandchildren and other relatives. A sister died earlier.

A service is to be held on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 5 p.m. at Temple Sholom, 55 Church Lane, Broomall, Pa. 19008.

Donations in her name may be made to Temple Sholom, 55 Church Lane, Broomall, Pa. 19008.