The Rev. Harriet B. Kurtz, 61, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who, with her husband, was a well known peace advocate committed to preventing nuclear war, died of cancer Friday at George Washington University Hospital.
Known for innovative ideas, Mrs. Kurtz founded War Control Planners, Inc., in 1961 with her husband , Howard. She began advocating the idea of "War Safety Control," and proposed a "Global Information Cooperative" as an alternative to the Soviet - U. S. arms race.
Mrs. Kurtz called her cooperative plan, which proposed use of space satellites to gather information on every aspect of human events, form crops to troop movements to weather monitoring, a "historical breakthrough."
She asserted, in testimony before the Senate and House and in voluminous letters and pamphlets she wrote with her husband, that the security of the United States was inextricably linked to the security of other nations and that "both sides of a nuclear war may be obliterated."
As a result, Mrs. Kurtz supported the sharing of military intelligence and other information regarded as top secret by many nations andthis country.
"If you say we ought to share it, that sounds moralistic," said Howard Kurtz. "What we're saying is that, unless we share it, we can't use it."
Mrs. Kurtz became interested in alternatives to the Cold War after her husband saw a display of new Soviet weaponry on May Day, 1947.
During the 1950s the Kurtzes became students of international politics. After Mrs. Kurtz was ordained in 1954, and made world peace her mission, the couple began holding round-tables on ways to avoid war.
Their sessions led them to begin a newsletter on the topic of alternatives to the arms race. Called Checkpoint, it is ent to 3,000 persons.
After Kurtz lost his job as an engineer with a consulting firm in 1965, possibly, he believes, because his work in the peace movement angered two of the firm's clients who were defense manufacturers, the Kurtzes made their work with War Control PLanners a full-time occupation.
"If we have a contribution to make it's likely to be a very small but a very crucial one, Mrs. Kurtz once said. "That's what we tell ourselves to keep afloat. I don't know whether that's right or not."
The high point of their activities, according to Kurtz, came June 1 this year while Mrs. Krutz was hospitalized.
After the Kurtzes sent the White House a copy of the testimony they gave on the Hill, a White House official sent a reply to them, telling them that their ideas were being passed on to the President's scientific adviser and the national security adviser.
"For eight years, through Nixon and Ford," said Kurtz, "everytime we sent our ideas to people on that level (White House) of government it would get stopped by the National Security Council because it bucked Kissinger. But now." he asserted. "those people are listening and discussing our ideas."
Mrs. Kurtz, a native of Chicago, was a 1937 graduate of Wellesley College. She earned a master's degree in divinity from Union Tehological Seminary in 1962 after six years of study.
She had studied at the Russian Institute of Columbia University from 1946 to 1948.
In addition to her husband, of the home in Washington: survivors include a son, Bryan, of Chicago, and a daughter, Brenda Curtis, of New York City.