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Anne T. Palamountain, Former Skidmore First Lady, Passes Away at 91

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Anne Palamountain, former first lady of Skidmore.

The Skidmore community received the following email from President Glotzbach earlier Saturday evening, 1/24.

I write with the sad news that Anne Tonnesen Palamountain, a legendary figure in the history of Skidmore College and a personal friend of many of us on campus, died today, January 24, in Saratoga Hospital of complications from pneumonia. She was 91 years old.

Active in Skidmore affairs for 50 years, right through this winter, Anne was the “First Lady” of the College for 22 years, during a period of dynamic change at Skidmore and in higher education nationally.

Anne came to the College in 1965, accompanying her husband, Joseph C. Palamountain Jr., who previously served as provost at Wesleyan University, when he became the fourth President of Skidmore. Whether at the side of her husband, or through her own initiatives as a fundraiser and liaison to the community, she played a pivotal role in the life of the College and in the city of Saratoga Springs. 

During the Palamountain presidency, 1965–87, Skidmore built an entirely new campus and moved there in stages from its eclectic mix of older downtown buildings, ushered in coeducation, and weathered student unrest in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The era was made all the more challenging by the College’s then-small endowment and severe financial strains. With Joe Palamountain at the helm, Skidmore’s student body doubled; the endowment grew, bringing a stronger financial footing; Skidmore chartered a chapter of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa; and the College launched the pioneering University Without Walls program. President Palamountain died in 1987, following his retirement.

Anne’s involvement in the life of Skidmore is a story in its own right.  Her greatest passion was building endowment for financial aid, which she saw as the most effective way to make a college education accessible to all students. In 1979 she spearheaded the launch of one of the College’s major fundraising events, the annual Palamountain Scholarship Benefit. She presided over the event for 35 years, helping the Joseph C. and Anne T. Palamountain Scholarship Fund reach a total of $5.8 million.

An avid traveler, Anne over the years attended Skidmore events across the country.  She was named an honorary alumna of the Class of 1973 and received an honorary doctorate from the College in 1997. In 1986 she received an alumni award for outstanding service to Skidmore and in 1987 received the College’s Denis B. Kemball-Cook Award from the board of trustees. She was a member of the advisory committee for the development of the Tang Teaching Museum, and the museum’s Palamountain Gallery was named in her honor. In 2004, she was awarded Skidmore’s Lucy Scribner Medal, given for selfless service to others and a commitment to the community.

Within the greater Saratoga Springs community, Anne was a visible and active leader whose work was recognized by a wide range of organizations. In 1994 she received the President’s Award of the Hudson Mohawk Association of Colleges and Universities, and in 1999 she was presented with the Woman of the Year Award from Soroptimists International of Saratoga County. In 2001 she received the Kathryn Starbuck Award for community service and in 2003 was honored by the Saratoga Springs Rotary Education Foundation for her commitment to education and the community.

Anne was a recipient of the Liberty Bell Award of the Saratoga County Bar Association and was twice honored with resolutions by the New York State Assembly. She has served as board president of the Lake George Opera and as a board member of Yaddo and WMHT public television. Over the years, she was affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the Saratoga Springs League of Women Voters, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Action Council, and the National Museum of Racing. She regularly attended events supporting charities and nonprofit organizations in the Saratoga Springs region. 

Fond of international travel, Anne served as U.S. delegate to the Pan-Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association, attending meetings and conferences in various countries of South East Asia.

Anne is survived by two sons, Bruce K. Palamountain and Bromley C. Palamountain.

Anne will be greatly missed by the Skidmore Community. In her memory we will carry on the important work of the Palamountain Scholarship Fund and its goal of access to higher education.

A memorial service is scheduled on Wednesday, May 13, at the Arthur Zankel Music Center. Details will be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to the Palamountain Scholarship Fund, Office of Advancement, Skidmore College, 815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. 

Our deepest condolences to Palamountain’s family, and our sincere appreciation to everything she has done for the entire Skidmore community for so many years.