Barbara Auchincloss Thacher ’40, a former president of the Alumnae
Association, chair of the board of trustees and recipient of the College’s
highest honor, the M. Carey Thomas Award, died on February 1, 2007.
Her loss is deeply mourned by generations of Bryn Mawr scholars,
administrators and alumnae who were inspired and sustained by her
work for the College.
Thacher was the first woman and first Bryn Mawr alumna to chair
the College’s board. By the time of her appointment to the post in
1980, she had already served the College as a volunteer in a variety of
important roles for many years. She had sat on the College’s board
since 1969, chaired the presidential search committee that hired Harris
Wofford, who would later become a U.S. Senator, and led a recordbreaking
fundraising campaign, among other achievements.
In 1985, the College honored Thacher with the M. Carey Thomas
Award, a rarely bestowed laurel whose recipients include luminaries
such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Marianne Moore (Class of 1909), Georgia
O’Keeffe, Katharine Hepburn ’28 and Martha Graham. In 1992,
Columbia Teachers College awarded her the Cleveland E. Dodge
Medal for Distinguished Contribution to Education.
For a May 5 memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church of
New Canaan, Connecticut, Mary Patterson McPherson, Ph.D. ’69,
during whose presidency Thacher chaired the board of trustees,
repeated one of the “ditties” she had read when presenting Thacher
with the M. Carey Thomas Award:
The quality of Thacher is not strain’d
She maketh cash to fall as ’twere from heaven
Upon Bryn Mawr beneath; she is twice bless’t
She blesseth her that gives and her that takes.
Sweet are her uses of adversity
To educate us all. O brave new world that has such people in it.
Thacher was also a veteran of the boards of several other nonprofit
enterprises, including the Leake and Watts Children’s Home, whose
board she chaired; the New York City Board of Higher Education, of
which she was the vice chair appointed by Mayor John Lindsey; the
Public Social Policy Committee of the Federation of Protestant Welfare
Agencies; the New York Public Broadcasting station WNET-13;
Sheltering Arms Children’s Service; Istanbul Women’s College; the
Parents’ League of New York; and Columbia University Teachers College,
from which she earned a master’s degree in history in 1965. She was an
elder of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church, Bronx,New York, from
1958 to 1961.
She was predeceased by her husband Thomas D. Thacher. She is
survived by six children: Barbara Thacher Plimpton ’64 and Elizabeth
Thacher Hawn ’68, Thomas D. Thacher II, Hugh A. Thacher, Peter
A.Thacher, and Andrew Thacher; and seven grandchildren. Contributions
may be sent to Bryn Mawr College, Helfarian, 101 North Merion Avenue,
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899.