Eleanor Belser, a former member of the NASW national Board of Directors, passed away at her home in Mar Vista, Calif., in March. She was 89.
Belser joined NASW in 1966 as an MSW student and remained a member until her death. She was active at the state and national levels. When she was semi-retired, Belser was elected to the NASW National Board of Directors. She served on the board from 1987-1990.
Additionally, Belser served on the Boards of Directors of the Center for Social Policy and Practice, the Social Workers Research & Education Fund, and the NASW California Chapter's Social Work Image Council. She was an active supporter of NASW's Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE). In recent years, Belser assisted with the National Social Work Public Education Campaign.
Suzanne Dworak-Peck was president of NASW when Belser was on the national board.
"She was a role model for many professional social workers and a compassionate human being who was always there for the people and the issues that she cared about," Dworak-Peck said.
Dworak-Peck and Belser also served together on the Board of the NASW Communications Network (NCN). Dworak-Peck, who currently serves as the chair of the National Social Work Public Education Campaign Advisory Committee, founded NCN to improve the public image of social work by working with the media and entertainment industries.
At Belser's memorial, Dworak-Peck read a portion of a tribute written by Janlee Wong, executive director of the NASW California Chapter. Wong wrote, "The California Chapter of NASW mourns the passing of Eleanor Belser. She was a great social worker and a wonderful, caring human being whose presence always made you feel welcome."
Belser assisted in founding the NASW California Chapter Social Action/Social Justice Council, and was involved in various progressive causes in Southern California. The NASW California Chapter named her "Social Worker of the Year" in 1994.
She was considered a progressive social worker and served on NASW's Social Workers for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament Committee, which opposed the policies of President Ronald Reagan's administration, particularly those concerning Central America. The committee fronted NASW's endeavors to counter the apartheid policies in South Africa and encouraged NASW's Delegate Assembly to implement peace as one of its most important policy priorities in the 1980s. She was also a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and was blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the Truman administration.
Belser is the author of a book titled Insurance Reimbursement Manual for Licensed Clinical Social Workers in California, and various journal articles.
"Eleanor Belser was passionate about social justice, peace, political action, civil rights and civil liberties," NASW President Jim Kelly said. "The National Association of Social Workers will continue to uphold and champion the values by which she lived and we are committed to ensuring that the legacy of her good work lives on."