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Education Pioneer Marianne Frostig Dies

Marianne Frostig, founder of a school to help otherwise normal children overcome their learning handicaps, has died while on a lecture tour in Germany.

Mrs. Frostig, a psychologist whose school has borne her name since its founding in 1958, suffered a stroke and died June 20. She was 79 and frequently toured Europe since retiring as executive director of the Marianne Frostig Center of Educational Therapy, said Linda Thieben, the Pasadena center’s development director.

Born in Austria, she and her psychiatrist husband--who died in 1959--fled Europe during World War II. Arriving in New York, Mrs. Frostig enrolled in the New School of Social Research. She later earned a master’s degree from Claremont College and a doctorate from USC.

With Dr. Welty Lefever and John R. B. Whittlesey, she developed a test that measured five separate perceptual functions in children. She developed a curve based on the performance of more than 1,800 schoolchildren without learning handicaps and was thus able to judge the extent of the disabilities of the 3,000 youngsters who have passed through the Frostig center to date.

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Some of the children tested are able to continue in their regular schools with special programs designed for them while others are assigned to special education classes, Thieben said. Most are of normal intelligence but suffer some type of perceptual or coordination problem.

Even adults occasionally are examined, and the nonprofit center has attracted teachers and doctors from around the world.

In recognition of her achievements, Mrs. Frostig was named a Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year in 1970. A Santa Monica resident, Mrs. Frostig most recently had been a professor in residence at Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.

She is survived by a son, Thomas, a sister, Elizabeth Magid, and five granddaughters. Contributions are being asked to the Marianne Frostig Center, 2495 E. Mountain St., Pasadena, 91104.

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