Brita Dybergh Counselman, 89, a resident of the Washington area for the past 50 years and a founder of the Republican Women's Club of Upper Montgomery County, died of pneumonia Sunday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
Mrs. Counselman first came to Washington in 1913 when her first husband, Freeman Day, was appointed as assistant attorney general by president Woodrow Wilson. Among her friends at that time was Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and she was a member of his famous Friday Afternoon Discussion Group.
From 1920 to 1930, she lived in New York and then in Paris and was divorced during this period. She returned to Washington in 1930 following her marriage to Lee Counselman.
In 1933, the Counselmans bought "Fertile Meadows," a farm near Gaithersburg. Mrs. Counselman restored the house, which dates from the 18th century, and became an authority on early American pine and maple furniture and on early American glass.
In addition to her work in helping to found the Republican Women's Club of Upper Montgomery County, she lobbied for passage of legislation concerning the welfare of children and mental health.
Mrs. Counselman was born in Oakland, Calif. She graduates from Mills College in Oakland in 1910 and then went to New York City. There she sought a career in the theater and posed for illustrations for the covers of The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines.
She lived at "Fertile Meadows," which still is a dairy farm, until her death.
Her husband died in 1965.
Survivors include two sons, Dr. Robert Day of Middleburg, and John A. Day of Lafayette Hill, Pa., nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.