The Oneida County Historical Society has renamed its "Living Legends" award in honor of Richard Couper '44. The award will be called the Richard W. Couper Living Legend Award in honor of Couper, who "has not only worked long hours on behalf of the Society, but also as a volunteer for many non-profit organizations," said Kevin Marken, of the Historical Society. The announcement was made at a press conference on Friday, June 6. Couper, and this year's Living Legends, Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito and area industrialist Earle Reed, will be honored at a dinner on September 5 at the Harts Hill Inn.
Couper, in receiving the honor, quipped "If you have to be a legend, it's preferable to be a living legend." He accepted the award as tribute to his forebearers.
Couper, a life trustee of Hamilton, served as a member of the Oneida County Historical Society board of trustees from 1993-1999 and currently serves as a member of its board of councilors.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Hamilton with honors in Greek and history. In 1948 he received a master's degree from Harvard University with a concentration in American history. In 1962 Couper returned to Hamilton as administrative vice president. Later he was promoted to acting president and then vice president and provost.
In 1969 Couper joined the New York State Education Department as first deputy commissioner for higher education. Two years later he became the New York Public Library's first full time president and chief executive officer. In 1981 Couper became president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, serving until 1990.
Couper, a native of Binghamton, enlisted in the Army in 1942 during World War II as a private. He rose in rank to captain and served as a company commander in the ordinance department in Attu.