Mary Coutant: Public Service Personified Community Celebrates the Life of Beloved Children’s Advocate

Mary Coutant, who succumbed to chronic health problems October 9 at the age of 71, will be remembered as a dynamic and steadfast champion of children’s causes. A Torrington icon, Mary was revered for her advocacy work, much of which she carried out over nearly 30 years as executive director of the Winchester Area Youth Service Bureau.

“It’s unthinkable that she is no longer here,” Mary’s minister and longtime friend, the Rev. Ellen Tillotson, told hundreds of mourners at Trinity Episcopal Church on October 14. 

Born in New Haven, Mary was the youngest of the six Humeston children. She moved to Torrington in 1964, after graduating from Springfield College, and soon found herself head of services for women and girls at the YMCA.

The rest, as they say, is history. 

But Mary’s civic legacy extends far beyond her remarkable accomplishments in the area of youth services. A leader in countless community and charitable initiatives, she received the Torrington Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Fellowship award and was the second woman ever to serve as the club’s president.

Mary also was named Person of the Year by the Torrington UNICO Club, and she earned the Chamber of Commerce of Northwest Connecticut’s Community Leader award. 

In recognition of Mary’s contributions to the community, The Mary H. Coutant Fund for the Summer Fun Club was established at the Foundation in 2001. Recently renamed The Mary H. Coutant Fund for Rising Star Camp, the endowment is used to support programs that benefit at-risk children aged 5 to 15 by encouraging healthy choices and goal-setting.  

“Mary was a force for good,” Foundation President Guy Rovezzi said. “And her contributions to the welfare of our community, especially where it concerns children, will be felt for generations to come.”

Contact your Community Foundation staff at: (860) 626-1245 to discuss your charitable giving options and goals.