Mary Lou Wingerter Couch
When Mary Lou Wingerter Couch retired as New College Foundation’s vice president for donor relations on June 30, 2011, the College bid a fond farewell to one of its longest-tenured and most beloved employees. Wingerter Couch spent her 46 years at New College successfully organizing fundraising events, connecting new folks in town with the College and raising funds. She will be remembered for her unflagging energy, her incredible community connections and an ageless style that reflected a young-at-heart attitude.
“I go way back to when the College started,” recalls Wingerter Couch. “I remember when we all had lunch together in College Hall, the professors, the students, the staff, everyone. The people I’ve met have been amazing.”
In organizing events and cultivating donors, she made friends with early supporters like Jane Bancroft Cook, the Pritzker family and the first head of admissions, Millie Ellis, as well as notable author John MacDonald, General Alexander Haig and Chief Justice Warren Burger.
“I’ve worn many hats and did many things, even organizing memorial services for some of our donors,” says Wingerter Couch. “I got to know all the people in town, and how to get things done. I have fond memories of it all.”
Mary Lou Wingerter arrived in Sarasota in 1965 from New Jersey, knowing virtually no one and determined to bring up her two young daughters with love and stability. Her parents had a winter home here, and she had planned to hang out in Sarasota for a few months until she could finalize her divorce and catch her breath. But she did much more than that — she took a big gulp of Gulf air and knew it was the place she wanted to be. Luckily for New College, fortune intervened to keep her here.
Wingerter Couch’s events included dinner auctions, formatted themed galas, book parties, luncheons and fashion shows, a clambake on the beach, lecture series, holiday parties and the Big Band Bash. Her goal was always twofold: to raise both funds and friends for New College. Over the past three years, she was responsible for major gifts fundraising.
In honor of her years of dedicated service, Mary Lou Wingerter was made an honorary alumna by the New College Alumnae/i Association at the College’s Commencement ceremony in May 2011.