Follow Us

News

Remembering Patsy Couper

By Hamilton Community

February 20, 2014

The College lost a great friend, student and benefactor this week. To honor Patsy Couper’s life and memory, The Spectator has collected reflections from students, faculty, administrators and staff who knew and loved her. For those who wish to attend, there will be a memorial service for Ms. Couper at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the Hamilton College Chapel. The service will be followed by a reception in Dwight Lounge, Bristol Center.

• • •

Whenever I talked with Patsy Couper, it was like a little ray of sunshine in my day. She was an incredibly positive, cheerful and energetic woman. It was an honor to know her.

—Irene Cornish, Auxiliary Services

• • •

Patsy Couper was an avid supporter of the College, and especially for students. I always admired her sense of empathy, and her commitment as a life-long learner. She will be dearly missed, and I have no doubt that her legacy will continue for years to come.

—Amit Taneja, director, diversity & inclusion

• • •

Patsy was a tremendous inspiration to the choir. She constantly reminded us how much our singing meant to her.

She attended the matinee performance of the choir musical, and despite everyone being tired from performing the show two nights in a row, her presence in the audience inspired a lot of us to “do it for Patsy.” She would have loved us anyway, but her presence brought the best out of us. Also, no one looked as stylish driving their SUV than Patsy going up the hill at 90.

—Gabe Mollica ’14

• • •

I didn’t know Patsy for as long as others--we sat down for lunch together for the first time this fall. What impressed me most was her commitment to positivity and to the brighter side in life. This kind of optimism might have sounded trite or insincere from others, but Patsy was honest about the fact that it didn’t always come naturally to her. She made a conscious choice each day to look at the world in the best way that she could--seeing the blue sky, and ignoring the clouds. It’s true that the Hill has lost one of its greatest advocates and benefactors, but what she has left is an overwhelming legacy of optimism and love. That’s a lot of blue sky, Patsy. Thanks for the sandwich.

—John Boudreau ’14

• • •

Among her other qualities, Patsy had a deep and affectionate knowledge of the College’s past.  It was wonderful to have her as a student (and resource) in my bicentennial seminar on Hamilton history a few years ago.  She would talk, quietly yet with obvious authority, about the people she had been friends with who shaped Hamilton’s history over the last half century -- President Bob McEwen, Dean Winton Tolles, Sam and Natalie Babbitt of Kirkland College, and, of course, her own husband, Dick Couper, Class of ’44, provost, life trustee.  She embodied and brought to life a vital moment in Hamilton’s rise to national educational prominence.

—Maurice Isserman, professor of history

• • •

Patsy’s passing immediately made me think of the magnificent example she provided us on how to live 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.

—Jon A.L. Hysell ’72, P’04, senior development officer

• • •

It was a wonder to witness Patsy’s incredible network of friends and admirers and I cherished our friendship.  She would do something wonderful and somehow end up thanking you!  We all have so much to be thankful for in Patsy Couper, most of all her example of gratitude and indomitable good cheer.

—Mary McLean Evans ’82, assistant vice president, executive director, Maurice Horowitch Career Center

• • •

In life and in death, Patsy taught us all an important lesson:  not to spend too much time thinking about oneself, as she once confided to my wife, Nancy.  Her philosophy of life--and secret to living it to the fullest--led her to reach out to others and be genuinely interested in their lives.  I always felt her warm generosity of spirit and looked forward to seeing her and engaging her in a conversation, from which I invariably emerged feeling better.  What a great lady!  Nancy and I will miss her deeply.

—John C. O’Neal, professor of French

• • •

She showed us, every day, the seemingly infinite capacity of the human heart to expand.

—Katheryn Doran, associate professor of philosophy

• • •

The Earth lost an angel to heaven. Patsy was one of the greatest friends I have ever had and would not be where I am today as a person and a friend without her influence. I will fondly remember our dessert booth lunches, her constant support of all of my activities and the beautiful handwritten notes. I and the entire Hamilton Community will miss you. Rest in peace my friend.

—Tara Huggins ’14

• • •

Patsy was a great fan of our women’s soccer and lacrosse programs. We especially enjoyed tailgating with her after the games! We love you Patsy!

—Patty Kloidt, head women’s lacrosse coach

• • •

I always felt uplifted after I run into Patsy, be it at a reception on campus, at Tom’s natural foods store or at the KAC; she had that power to make me feel good in any circumstance.

—Martine Guyot-Bender, professor of French

• • •

Patsy was a wonderful friend to me, as she was to so many others. Her supportive words, her rapt attention to whatever I was sharing with her, her generosity, her calm and gentle approach to life and her goodwill toward all were so uplifting. I will miss her always.

—Vige Barrie, senior director of Media Relations

• • •

Patsy Couper was an amazing, strong, but gentle woman and I really admired her.  She will be sorely missed here on campus and in many hearts.

—Yvonne Schick ’13, senior production specialist, Print Shop

• • •

Patsy loved life, loved her family and friends, loved Hamilton, loved to learn and we all loved Patsy!

—Maureen Scoones, associate director, It Process Improvement and Education

• • •
She had a wider range of friends than anyone else I’ve ever known.

—Bonnie Urciuoli, professor of anthropology

• • •

For Patsy-a Celtic prayer:

Deep peace of the
running waves to you.
Deep peace of the
flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the
quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the
shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the
Son of Peace to you.

—Britt Hysell,  coordinator of the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program

• • •

Patsy loved studying literature, and she became friends with everyone in the seminar, as she did with everyone she met.  I have never known anyone who had more friends, or who was loved by as many people, as Patsy was.

—John H. O’Neill, Edmund A. LeFevre professor of English emeritus and lecturer in English

• • •

Patsy had the simplicity and goodness that can come only from true depth of character. Her sunshine was always real.

—Alfred Kelly, Edgar B. Graves professor of history

• • •

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.

—Dick Tantillo, vice president, Communications and Development

• • •

After admiring Patsy Couper from afar for over a year, she walked right up to me and introduced herself. It made my day.

—Lily Johnston ’16

• • •

Both Patsy and her husband Dick were dear friends of my wife and mine, and we cannot believe that they are now both gone.  She was unique, an absolute treasure, full of good nature and enthusiasm and forever concerned with everyone but herself. The place will not be the same without her smiling presence in the Fitness Center (where my wife worked with her on occasion) or in her special seat in the upper right corner of Wellin Hall. We will miss her terribly.

—Jeremy Medina, Burgess professor of romance languages emeritus and lecturer in Hispanic studies

• • •

Patsy Couper was a gracious, kind, gentle, and generous lady. The Couper’s quiet patronage of Hamilton, its community, and our academic efforts, is something for which we should all be eternally grateful, and strive to honor in our work.

—Christian Goodwillie, director of Special Collections

• • •

Every time I see sheets drying in the breeze I will think of her.  I will miss her very much and will try to live the rest of my life by her example.

—Linda Michels, senior assistant to the vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty

• • •

Patsy once said to me, “It doesn’t take any extra energy to be optimistic.” This will remain with me forever as an outlook to aspire to, as will her extraordinary love of and devotion to humanity. In the most unassuming--and, I’m sure, unintentional--way, she taught me--and all of us--a lot about how to live a good life.

—Nick Stagliano ’11

• • •

I hope that the choir realizes what a great time Patsy had watching Candide. Patsy told me that while the performance was going to be excellent, she thought it was made all the better knowing that she had great friends in the cast.

—Mackenzie Leavenworth ’15

• • •

She had the power to touch the lives of individuals through the simplest encounters.

—Jorett Joseph ’15

• • •

When you spent time in conversation with Patsy, you always felt better afterwards. She showed us that there were always new things to see, hear and experience and I regularly marked her presence at Hamilton events with a “oh good, Patsy is here!”

—Monk Rowe, Joe Williams director of the Jazz Archive and lecturer in music performance

• • •

Patsy loved to attend the concerts by the Oratorio Society (now the Masterworks Chorale) and it was always a delight to see her in her favorite spot.  Her comments were always highly positive and supportive, regardless of how the ensemble had performed.  We’ll miss her presence.

—Robin Kinnel, Silas D. Childs professor of chemistry emeritus and lecturer in chemistry

• • •

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

—Joan Wolek, interlibrary loan assistant

• • •

What I will remember most about Patsy is her graciousness, her thoughtfulness, her keen mind and her smile. A smile that always seemed to come easily, especially when talking about her family, her many friends or in absorbing the latest news you might have to share. She was genuinely interested in people and embraced life and all those around her. In ways big and small, she set an example for the rest of us to follow.

—Pam Havens, director of Donor Relations

• • •

Every July, the Couper family would take up residence in Bristol guest rooms for a family reunion. Patsy and the Couper-Haskins clan would often join the summer sports campers in Commons dining hall for their meals. Even if the summer camp fare turned out to be just sloppy joe’s and tater tots for lunch that day, Patsy would go out of her way to pass along her compliments and praise as if they had just enjoyed a four-course feast!

—Dannelle Parker, auxiliary services/summer programs

• • •

Patsy was the light and life of Hamilton College.  She understood well what is most important about Hamilton: the students and the faculty’s relationship with them.  It is hard to imagine life on the Hill without Patsy’s presence.

—Barbara Gold, Edward North professor of classics

• • •

For Patsy, friend and mentor ~~

who understood the true value of community,
who cherished the Glenn and the wildflowers,
whose faith in the goodness of people sustained us all.

—Catherine Phelan, professor of communication

• • •

Patsy had a special devotion to the Root Glen.  One of her favorite moments in its annual cycle was the blooming of twinleaf or Jeffersonia dyphylla.  The low modest white flower is visible for just a day or two in early spring, but discovering it was one of the local botanical events that delighted Patsy on her walks in the Glen.

—Anne Kinnel

• • •

I was introduced to Patsy by Richard Hunt my junior year of college at Hamilton and was immediately touched from the moment I met her. I introduced her to my parents at a swim meet and she and my mom immediately became joined at the hip. They both so strongly believed in guardian angels and it tied them together.  When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she and Patsy would exchange hand-written letters every other week and her kind words and support truly made my mom happy. Patsy was a guardian angel for everyone at Hamilton. She meant the world to me and I will miss her.

—Megan Gibbons ’12

• • •

We have lost a dear dear woman whose love for Hamilton was palpable.  She will be sorely missed on campus.  I always felt happier after talking with Patsy.  Her outlook on life was so inspiring.  We have much to learn from her wonderful example of how to live a loving, giving, and fulfilling life.

—Sue Stetson, associate director, budgets and financial reporting

• • •

I have never known anyone to have more love of people and of life itself than Patsy. She will remain an inspiration to all who knew her

—Leslie Bell, associate director, Career Center

• • •

She was always so kind. She came to several musical performances and was a huge support to all forms of the arts. Her spirit and kindness will be missed

—Doc Mike Woods, professor of music

return to previous page