Harriet Fleisher Berger, 94, of East Falls, a Drexel University professor from 1967 to 1988 whose life was shaped by progressive causes, died of Parkinson’s disease on Friday, May 4 2012.
Mrs. Berger was the former wife of David Berger, city solicitor from 1956 to 1963 in the Democratic administration of Mayor Richardson Dilworth, which ended in 1962. Mr. Berger’s later career focused on class-action lawsuits involving the likes of the Three Mile Island and Exxon Valdez disasters.
Born in Philadelphia, Mrs. Berger graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1934 and earned a bachelor’s at Wellesley College in 1938.
In 1950, the Bergers moved to East Falls, where she helped found the East Falls Community Council and became a Democratic committeewoman in the 23d Division of the 21st Ward, a job she held through the 1980s.
She earned a doctorate in political science at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967 — her thesis was on collective bargaining — and later that year began her teaching career as an assistant professor of history and politics at Drexel, from which she retired as full professor in 1988 at age 70.
After she retired, Mrs. Berger studied landscape and portrait painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and every other springtime into the 2000s brought Philadelphia Orchestra members to her home for a string quartet performance.
Besides her son Jonathan, Mrs. Berger is survived by her son Daniel and two grandchildren. Her former husband, David, died in 2007.