Remembering G. Fox & Co.

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Beatrice Fox Auerbach (1887-1968)

Portrait of Beatrice Fox Auerbach.

Portrait of Beatrice Fox Auerbach. John Haley, ca. 1950.
CHS 2007.24.283.

Beatrice Fox Auerbach became president of G. Fox & Co. in 1938, at a time when very few women held retail management positions. Growing up, Beatrice Fox attended the Beacon School, a private girls’ school in Hartford, and the Benjamin Deane School in New York, although much of her education took place outside of the classroom. While Beatrice strongly valued higher education – a fact made known through her generous support of several Connecticut colleges – she would later say that her greatest educational experiences came from the extensive traveling she did as a child with her family.

In 1909, her family vacationed in Europe, traveling with another family, the Auerbachs, owners of a large department store in Salt Lake City, Utah. During this trip, Beatrice became acquainted with George S. Auerbach and, in 1911, they married and moved to Salt Lake City. The couple’s first child, Georgette, was born there in 1916. The Auerbachs returned to Hartford in 1917 so that George could help his father-in-law rebuild after fire destroyed the G. Fox & Co. building. Their second child, Dorothy, was born in Hartford in 1919.

When her husband died suddenly in November of 1927, Mrs. Auerbach assumed his position as secretary of the board, working side-by-side with her father. Although she had no formal business training, she quickly acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to run the company. When Moses Fox died a decade later, Mrs. Auerbach assumed the presidency of G. Fox & Co., a position she held until shortly before her own death in 1968.

Mrs. Auerbach was as well known for her philanthropy and community involvement as she was for her business acumen. She was especially active in the Hartford Jewish community, working with the Deborah Society, United Jewish Charities, and the Hartford Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, among other groups. She established the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation to aid charitable and educational organizations in Connecticut and Hartford in particular. She also founded the Women’s Service Bureau, which provided support for women’s organizations in Connecticut. She further supported these groups by providing them with office space in the store as well as free use of Centinel Hill Hall, an auditorium located on the store’s top floor.