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NEW YORK — A wake will be held today at the M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station, N.Y., for Fairchild Fashion Group’s director of photography and imaging, Anita Bethel, who died last week at age 57.
An autopsy is being done to determine the cause and time of death for Bethel, whose body was found in her New York apartment Friday. She was battling a second bout with cancer at the time of her death, according to her sister, Kathryn Bethel.
Born in Manhattan, Bethel spent her early years living in Oceanside on Long Island before her family moved to Rosedale, Queens. After studying at Queens College, she worked briefly for the U.S. Social Security Administration, before joining Fairchild’s advertising department in 1978. That post became a stint for the more artistically inclined Bethel, whose skills were soon put to better use in the dark room.
Before long, Bethel was named manager of the photo department, where she oversaw the photographers’ numerous assignments, often offering her insight about who would be best matched for any given assignment. More of a den mother than dilettante, Bethel saw colleagues as her extended family and provided them with a sense of place.
Prone to speaking in the collective, Bethel understood the urgency of breaking news and accommodated without hesitation. Expeditious as she was, she revelled in hearing the back story about shoots and news stories. Her competitive spirit and enthusiasm did not wane despite having cancer. But she would just as easily speak up should any piece of news have left her wondering.
WWD’s editor in chief Edward Nardoza said, “Day after day, season after season, Anita raised the standard of WWD’s photojournalism. All her co-workers depended on her and she delivered time and again. Aside from this dedicated professionalism, her instinctive warmth, easy smile and humor in the most difficult, pressured situations made her a beloved friend and colleague.”
Kathryn Bethel, her only survivor, said, “Even as a child, she would always finish what she started. She was just a hard worker. But she also was one of the kindest, gentlest people. There was nothing pretentious about her. No one was beneath her.”