by Seymour "Sy" Brody
Beatrice Fox as a young lady never had to worry about finances as her parents were well-to-do. She went to local and private boarding schools and she traveled very often with her family.
She was the daughter of Theresa and Moses Fox and was born on July 17, 1887, in Hartford, Connecticut. Her two sets of grandparents were of the German-Jewish migration of the mid-eighteen hundreds and they each established dry goods stores. Gerson Fox established his store in Hartford about 1845. and Ferdinand Stern established his store in Newburgh, New York, about 1857.
After the death of his father, Moses Fox became the president of the Hartford store which was firmly established and growing. When he went to Europe on buying trips, he often traveled with his family. It was on one of these trips that Beatrice Fox met and married George Auerbach. He was involved in his family business in Salt Lake City, Utah, a non-Mormon department store. They lived there and had two children - Georgette Fox, in 1916, and Dorothy Brooks, in 1919.
In 1917, a devastating fire destroyed G. Fox and Company in Hartford. Beatrice and George Auerbach was persuaded to return to Hartford when the store was rebuilt. He became the secretary-treasurer and he played a major role in the new and expanded store.
Beatrice Auerbach's life turned around when her husband died in 1927. She became involved in G. Fox and Company; first on a part- time basis and then becoming more involved in the management of the business as her father's health was slowly curtailing his activity. She became president of the store when her father died in 1938.
Under her leadership, the business grew tenfold. Fox was the largest privately owned store in the country. Beatrice Fox Auerbach was one of the first to institute labor reforms for her staff. She had a five- day week, retirement plans, medical and non-profit lunch facilities and interest free loans for her employees when they had a crisis.
Fox was one of the first stores to hire black employees for positions that gave them the opportunity to advance. She also started free delivery service, toll-free telephone order department and fully automated billing. She remained president until 1965 when she sold her privately owned stock for 40 million dollars of publicly held shares of May Department Stores Company.
After the sale of G. Fox and Company, her attention and activities turned to philanthropy and civic leadership. She served on many hospital, school and cultural organization committees and board of directors. She established the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation to help finance educational and civic activities.
She was very involved in The Service Bureau for Women's Organizations and she supported it financially. The bureau trained and helped women's groups in techniques of community organization. It later served as the host organization for the State Department's foreign visitor program. She was very active in her organizations until she died on November 29, 1968, in Hartford.
Beatrice Fox Auerbach was nationally recognized as an innovative merchandiser and civic-minded philanthropist. Her leadership role as a woman in the business world will always be an inspiration and model for all women.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
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