Harriette Behringer Fussell, 86, formerly of Center City, a journalist and public relations executive who was an advocate for women's rights, died Wednesday, Nov. 14, at a long-term care home in Medford, Ore. She had moved to Oregon two years ago to be close to family.
For 10 years, until moving to Philadelphia in 1983, Mrs. Fussell was director of public and community relations for the International Xerox Training Center in Leesburg, Va.
At Xerox, she developed women's rights projects during a yearlong sabbatical. She championed feminism through lectures, workshops, and talk shows, and established Alert magazine to assist women in all areas of job equality, her son Cole Behringer said.
After moving to Philadelphia, Mrs. Fussell edited newsletters for the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. Mint.
In 1990, she retired to accompany her husband, Paul Fussell, to London for a two-year study-abroad program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania.
Her husband, then a professor at Penn, was a recipient of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his 1975 book, The Great War and Modern Memory. The couple met in the early 1980s when she sent him a postcard after reading an article about him.
In recent years, she was active with Planned Parenthood and the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, wrote book reviews for The Inquirer, and contributed numerous letters to the editor to The Inquirer about social issues.
An authority on Benjamin Franklin, Mrs. Fussell suggested excerpts from Franklin's autobiography that were published in The Inquirer in 1990 to honor the bicentennial of his death.
In 1992, Mrs. Fussell established a "Campaign Against Compulsory Audio," providing diners with cards to give to maitre d's or servers in restaurants requesting that music be turned down or turned off. She also campaigned against the intrusion of cellphones, her son said.
She and her husband, who died in May of this year, enjoyed the cultural scene in Philadelphia, attending theater and opera performances and Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. "They had a great life to the end," her son said.
Mrs. Fussell was born in Clarksburg, W. Va. Her father, H.G. Rhawn, was a newspaper editor and publisher. She earned a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1947, and a master's degree in education from the University of Illinois in 1968.
In 1947, she married James W. Behringer. They had four children before he died of a heart attack in 1976. While raising a family in the Chicago area, she taught kindergarten through high school classes in local public schools.
From 1969 to 1973 she lived in Connecticut, where she was editor of My Weekly Reader, a national classroom newspaper. She was the author of four children's books.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Fussell is survived by another son, Rocklin Behringer; daughters Marcy and Liese Behringer; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Her former husband died in 1976.
A memorial service will be at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St.
Donations may be made to the Harriette Behringer Fussell Fund, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1144 Locust St., Philadelphia 19107.