Hamilton Mourns Patsy Couper - Hamilton College
Public Events
Public Events Calendar >>

RSS Feed       

Media Relations
Patsy Couper in the Grant Garden at Hamilton College. PHOTO: NANCY L. FORD PHOTO: NANCY L. FORD
View Slideshow: click on the image above

Hamilton Mourns Patsy Couper

By Michael Debraggio, Assistant Vice President for Communications
Posted February 18, 2014
Tags 1944 Alumni Hamilton Headlines

Patricia Pogue Couper, Hamilton friend, benefactor and widow of alumnus Richard W. Couper ’44, died Monday evening at her home. She was 90.

“It is difficult to imagine College Hill without Patsy’s optimism, smiling benevolence and immense good will,” President Joan Hinde Stewart said in announcing the news to the Hamilton College community. “The people and things she cared about shone through in all her conversations: wildflowers, Dick Couper, their children and grandchildren, libraries, music, Hamilton College. I am surely not the only one who took encouragement and hope from every meeting I had with her and who will cherish the beautiful cards and letters she wrote by hand.”

A native of Cincinnati, Patsy earned a degree in French from Smith College before she came to Hamilton in 1946 with her husband Dick. After stops in Albany, Princeton and New York, the Coupers retired to Clinton, where they immersed themselves in the life of the college they loved.

Patsy and Dick created the Williams-Watrous-Couper Fund, which provides support for faculty research and teaching improvement at Hamilton. They also endowed the Couper Librarianship and supported in many other ways the College’s library and its collections. Local organizations, such as the Kirkland Town Library and the Oneida County Historical Society, were beneficiaries of the Coupers’ largesse.1

After Dick died in 2006, Patsy remained a steady presence on campus. She audited classes; exercised in the fitness center; enjoyed concerts, lectures and sporting events; and attended every annual celebration from Convocation, to Class & Charter Day, to Baccalaureate and Commencement.2  In 2007, the Alumni Association recognized her with its highest honor, the Bell Ringer Award, for her “enthusiastic commitment to the College and your lively presence in its life.”

In 2011, Hamilton dedicated the Patricia Pogue Couper Research Room in the Burke Library and presented her with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

“Patsy Couper was and remains an inspiration and an example to Hamilton students, to our faculty and staff, and to me,” Stewart said.

Editor's note: Patsy will be remembered at a memorial service on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. in the Hamilton College Chapel. A reception will follow in Dwight Lounge in the Bristol Center. Calling hours are from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, at Owens-Pavlot & Rogers Funeral Service in Clinton. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Trustees of Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd., Clinton, NY 13323. (Updated Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 3:30 p.m.)


1 Adapted from Bell Ringer citation, June 2, 2007
 2 Adapted from Honorary Degree citation, May 22, 2011


Patsy had a gift for making everyone she talked with feel special. Her gentle goodness and the light she seemed to carry around with her always brightened my day. I will miss her terribly, and I know that that sentiment is widely shared. Marianne Janack

Lucky, lucky me to have such a lady for a friend. I will miss her very much and will try to live the rest of my life by her example. Linda Michels

Patsy helped me to learn that feeling young extends far beyond your given age. She always remarked at how fortunate she was to feel young and feel like a peer to those of us students she befriended on the Hill. When we had a surprise birthday party for her one year, she looked around the room and was amazed at the gathering of friends who wanted to recognize her birthday - she had so many friends and each friendship she nurtured with thoughtfulness and kindness. I have never met anyone like Patsy before and I am grateful for our friendship. I will be keeping her family in my prayers, she was a gift from God. - Clare Browne '12

When my family moved to Clinton in 1994, Patsy said to us, "the Hamilton community will embrace you and treat you like family; that's who we are." Little did we know then that 20 years later it would be Patsy's arms that had the tightest hug and longest reach. We will miss dear Patsy. Our world feels smaller today.

Patsy’s passing immediately made me think of the magnificent example she provided us on how to live one’s life. She combined deep personal humility with a will of tempered steel that she turned toward ennobling the lives of others in any way she could. She leaves an incalculable void yet her gentle guidance on how to create a fulfilling life lives on in the countless people she touched and the lives she enhanced. What a gem she was. How sad I am that she is gone. How blessed I was and my family was to have known her.

Patsy was 90 years young and a truly beautiful lady inside and out. She and Dick were friends of Jeremy and mine for many years. My latest bond with her was to show her how to lift weights in the gym! She was so delighted that every time me met she would thank me for that help. It tickled me that she was so grateful. Jeremy and I will miss her more than we can say.

Dick (for 77 years) and Patsy(for 65 years) were "best friends". The number of people for whom Patsy's passing will be an enormous loss is beyond calculation Bob Stone '44

Patsy was just so terrific in so many ways. Always pleasant to be around; always fun; always positive; made you feel good to be around her. We will miss her terribly; the college will miss her.

Patsy lived a life that many of us aspire to emulate. She was generous and kind, and always focused on the positive. Believing fundamentally in the power of education and the exchange of ideas, she modeled life-long learning for all of us. When I grow up, I want to be just like Patsy.

With so many others, we mourn the passing of Patsy Couper, whose sincere warmth, abiding interest in others, and genuine goodness won her a legion of friends and gave all of us a wonderful model of a life well lived. We will miss Patsy tremendously, but we are grateful for having known such a special woman. Jerry and Marie Pitarresi

She was kind to all people, she treated the staff just like she treated the faculty and students---a real lady!

Such sad news! With her bright smile, kind words, curious mind, and engagement in the community, Patsy was a shining light on the Hill and an inspiration to so many of us for so long. I will miss her.

“The 1949 Class Reunion Committee joins the Hamilton community in mourning the death of Patricia Couper and in celebrating her life of personal devotion to the support of students, faculty, alumni, and so many vital aspects of life on College Hill. How fortunate it was that Patsy adopted Hamilton and continued the legacy of the Couper family. We will especially miss the receptions she hosted for alumni of the mixed-class years following World War II at her home on Wildflower Way.

Warren E. Moore, 1949 Class President”