Diane Terman Felenstein, 79, dies; Financial guru for women

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Diane Terman Felenstein, who represented celebrities as a publicist before making a name for herself with a best-selling women's guide, died on December 8th at her home in Manhattan's Upper East Side. She was 79 years old.

The cause was complications from ovarian cancer, said her husband, Marshall Felenstein.

Ms. Terman Felenstein had run her own PR company when her interest in personal finance was sparked. During a flight, she read an article about the Beardstown Ladies, a group of women in their sixties and seventies who founded an investment club named after their city in Illinois, and wrote two best-selling books on their stock market returns. (A lawsuit later revealed that their profits were more modest than claimed.)

The Beardstown Ladies focused on collecting stocks, but for Ms. Terman Felenstein, the idea agreed that women should be familiar with finance to secure their future.

"I grew up in a generation where women count on men for finance," she later wrote in her own book. "I saw personal finance, even mine, as the most boring topic in the world."

Her daughter Deborah Kerner remembered how her mother described her financial transition.

"She used to say that the women she knew could host a charity event for hundreds of people or host a dinner party, but if you knew where your will was, you understood your family's investments, you knew what they would be ? do when their husbands have died? Asked Frau Kerner. "She asked her friends, and each of these women answered no."

In 1996, Ms. Terman Felenstein and a few dozen female acquaintances founded a club to learn about investments, stock selection, insurance, estate planning, and other financial matters. You called it the 008 Investment Club, a reference to eight as a “power figure” in numerology related to financial wealth.

The next year, along with another club member, Marilyn Crockett, she published "The Money Club: How We Taught The Secret of a Secure Financial Future – and How You Can" (with Dale Burg).

It encouraged women across the country to play a bigger role in managing their family finances, and it was a success.

The book was intended for beginners and contained chapters on investment, retirement and estate planning, insurance and important life events such as marriage and divorce.

The book contained anecdotal reports of what could go wrong for women who do not have financial control. Many of them come from the real experiences of women Ms. Terman Felenstein knew, her daughter said.

"Ignoring your financial security can lead to disaster," Terman Felenstein says told The New York Times in 1997. "Learn the language. Assess what you have. Only sign papers if you know what they are. "

She was born on October 23, 1940 as Diana Terman in Manhattan to Joseph and Pearl (Scharfman) Terman. Her mother was a real estate agent and her father worked in the clothing industry.

Ms. Terman Felenstein left New York University after a semester due to family financial pressures and worked a number of odd jobs before becoming a PR representative for Audio Fidelity Records. She later went freelance and founded Diane Terman Public Relations, which she led for four decades.

The company served a wide range of clients, including artist Salvador Dalí, weight loss guru Dr. Robert C. Atkins and the company SlimFast, as well as charities like United Cerebral Palsy and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, for which they co-organized telethons and fundraisers.

In addition to her 49-year-old husband and daughter, who joined her mother's company, Terman Felenstein leaves a stepson, Brad Felenstein; a stepdaughter, Joy Pierson; a twin brother, David Terman; and four grandchildren. Her first marriage to Robert Smiley ended in divorce.

Personal finance remained a passion for her, and she built on the success of her book with other projects such as "Women and Wills," a free series of lectures that helped women over 50. and a financial advisory group, grandparents for grandparents.

"If you don't plan properly, you will have a paper bag in your hand," Ms. Terman Felenstein was known. "We say:" If you hold the bag in your hand, there should be money in it. "