Edna Tuttleman, 92, philanthropist

Edna S. Tuttleman
Edna S. Tuttleman
Posted: December 21, 2013

Edna S. Tuttleman, 92, of Merion, a clothing designer and well-known Philadelphia philanthropist, died Wednesday, Dec. 18, of congestive heart failure at her home.

Due to Mrs. Tuttleman's largesse, her name appears on many buildings in the Philadelphia area, including the Tuttleman IMAX Theatre at the Franklin Institute, Tuttleman Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Tuttleman Learning Center and Tuttleman Counseling Center at Temple University, Tuttleman Library at Gratz College, Tuttleman Chapel at Temple Adath Israel, and many others.

She was board chairwoman of the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She also was on the board of Temple University.

David R. Brigham, president and chief executive of the academy, described Mrs. Tuttleman as "a wonderful, warm, generous person" with a deep-rooted love for the arts, especially 20th-century American art.

At the academy, she endowed a gallery dedicated to post-World War II sculpture, and also the Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum, a post formerly held by Brigham.

"I remember visiting her in 2007 or 2008," Brigham said. "She asked, 'Are you still using that name? That's a mouthful.'

"It's clear we are not going to stop honoring what she and her husband were generous enough to do. At the same time, she was sensitive to the practicalities of having a lot of words on your business card."

Harry Philbrick, the current Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum, said: "As an institution, we are immensely grateful for her generosity. It will have a sustaining impact on the academy."

Born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, Mrs. Tuttleman graduated from Temple University in 1942. While there, she was the first woman to be elected president of the student body. She served with the Waves during World War II, decoding and encoding sensitive information for the Navy. She later called that service her proudest accomplishment.

After the war, she studied painting at the academy.

She married Stanley C. Tuttleman, who had made his fortune starting in the 1950s as a Philadelphia-based entrepreneur in clothing manufacturing and retailing. The two settled in Bala Cynwyd. She managed financial and clothing design operations at Corner House, one of the family's retail and manufacturing concerns, while raising five children.

For two decades, she would commute to the firm's headquarters in Quakertown and rush home in time to greet her children at 3 p.m. The business was later sold to the Limited stores.

Later in their lives, the Tuttlemans devoted much of their energy and fortune to philanthropy. They funded educational, religious, and cultural institutions in the Philadelphia area.

All of her philanthropic ventures were undertaken with a sense of humility, said son Steven Tuttleman. "She was not out there for the stars and recognition. She taught me that philanthropy is an expression of yourself and your values," he said.

As a mother, Mrs. Tuttleman was quick to embrace her children's interests, even if fleeting.

"If we got interested in taking music lessons, collecting rocks, selling snow cones on the corner, she'd say, 'Let's go,' " recalled her son. "She was the bedrock of the family."

When Stanley Tuttleman died in 2006 following complications from a fall, Gov. Ed Rendell called his passing "a real blow to our region."

Mrs. Tuttleman was previously married to Lee Guber. They divorced, and he died in 1988.

In a proclamation issued after her death, the City of Philadelphia said Mrs. Tuttleman "generously supported the agencies and institutions that allow the public to experience the richness of Philadelphia's cultural heritage."

Surviving, besides her son Steven, are sons Zev Guber and David; a daughter, Carol Shanis Guber; 12 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a brother. A daughter, Jan Shanis Tuttleman, died of brain cancer in 2012.

Funeral services and interment will be private. The family will receive relatives and friends at her former residence Friday, Dec. 20, starting at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 21, beginning at 5:30 p.m. A shivah minyan will be held Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Contributions may be made to Temple Adath Israel via www.adathisrael.org, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts via www.pafa.org, or Temple University via www.temple.edu.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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