December 17, 2018

Teresa Susskind, Women’s Royal Naval Service member, 94

Teresa Susskind, who was part of a famed World War II code-breaking team, died Nov. 29 in her home in Berkeley. She was 94.

Born Teresa Gabriel on Aug. 15, 1921, in Watford, England, she was raised in London. While studying chemistry at Chelsea College of Science and Technology, she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service, and in 1943 was recruited to be part of the secret group of women who worked in Bletchley Park with Alan Turing on the Enigma Project, credited with cracking the German code (and the subject of the Academy Award-winning “The Imitation Game”).

During the war, she met Charles Susskind, who had fled Prague on the Kindertransport and later joined the U.S. Armed Forces in London as a stateless refugee. They were married in London on May 1, 1945. After the war, the couple immigrated to the United States. Charles Susskind completed his bachelor’s degree at Caltech and doctorate at Yale, while Teresa (Terry) Susskind took courses at Yale and became a professional librarian. The couple then returned to California, where Charles Susskind joined the faculty at UC Berkeley as a professor of electrical engineering; he taught for nearly five decades. The couple also owned and ran San Francisco Press, a small publishing company specializing in science, technology and music.

The couple were members of the Bay Area music community and subscribers to the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera. Terry Susskind was an activist, introducing music programs into the public schools and, in 1964, she became a member of the National Board of Young Audiences. She served as a board member of the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra in Berkeley and was chair of the project that sent 90 young musicians to Scotland to participate in an International Festival of Youth Orchestras. She became an active volunteer for the San Francisco Symphony and served on its board of governors from 1985 to 1989. She was also a member of the Berkeley Town and Gown Club, in which she served as president from 1984 to 1985, and historian for many years after that.

Charles passed away in 2004. Terry remained involved in the community, a devoted mother and friend, and a force of nature for another 11 years.  She is survived by children Pamela Pettler (and husband Rob Pettler), Peter Susskind and Amanda Susskind; by grandchildren Andrew Susskind (and wife Mary Susskind) and Michael Pettler; and by her much adored great grandson Duncan Sebastian Susskind.  Pamela Pettler is a prominent Los Angeles screenwriter.  Amanda Susskind is the Regional Director of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League.

Amanda Susskind is the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest region.