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Jane Couch Passes Away

NPR’s former VP of Development dies at age 73

Nonprofit executive and fundraiser Jane A. Couch, who served as vice president for development at National Public Radio from 1982–1991, passed away at age 73.

She died in Fayette, Ala., from adenocarcinoma, according to her daughter, Tracy C. Couch, who survives her along with Couch’s husband of 50 years, Davis O’Connell Couch.

Couch helped to shepherd NPR through its 1983 financial crisis and reorienting its funding sources away from direct federal funding to sustaining support from foundations, corporations, local stations and individual donors.

“In addition to her good humor, she was fearless in putting together an unprecedented enterprise. She executed it without hesitation,” said Douglas Bennet, former president and CEO of NPR. “When I arrived at NPR, I didn’t know what her resume was, but I let her tell me what to do and I did it.”

Born Jane Bartlett Ausbaugh in Montclair, N.J., the daughter Lester F. and Mary Aileen Ashbaugh, she graduated with an A.B. in political science from Vassar College in 1964. Her professional activities engaged many facets of American society, from her fundraising assistance to countless organizations as diverse as The National Trust for Historic Preservation, People for the American Way, Vanderbilt University, Center for Public Integrity, National Press Foundation, The New York Public Library, Spelman College and Washington’s Atlas Theater and The Lab School, in addition to her leadership role on the board of Independent Sector and her volunteer counsel to the Navajo Nation.

A memorial service will be held in the fall in Washington.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, National Public Radio, Fauna & Flora International or any good cause that might need our collective support at this time in history.