Carol Clark Tatkon, a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees since 1981 and vice chair since 1995, died Oct. 11 at her family home in North Egremont, Mass. She was 59.
Tatkon, who graduated from Cornell in 1959, was an economist and trailblazer for women in corporate America. Before retiring this year, she was a senior vice president for Exxon USA in Houston, having joined the company in 1964 as an economic analyst and moving steadily through corporate ranks at a time when women executives were rare. In 1980, she became the first woman member of the Petroleum Club in Houston and later served on its board.
Tatkon was a protege of Cornell economist Alfred Kahn.
Active in Cornell affairs, Tatkon served as vice chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1997. She also served on the Executive, Finance, Alumni Affairs, Development, Buildings and Properties, Investment, Finance, Audit and Board Membership committees. In 1984, she became vice chair of the Audit Committee, which she chaired from 1987 to 1991. She chaired the Buildings and Properties Committee from 1991 to 1996 and the Board Membership Committee in 1995 and 1996. She was a member of the Steering Committee on Alumni Leaders and an ex-officio member of the President's Council of Cornell Women. In 1994, she served as a member of the ad hoc Presidential Search Committee that selected Hunter Rawlings.
A Cornell University Council member since 1975, Tatkon was a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council and co-chaired its Campaign Committee. She was on the Business School Task Force in 1982-83.
Tatkon served on committees of the American Petroleum Institute and the Financial Executives Institute. Since 1964, she lived in New York City, Toronto and Houston and in each location had many civic activities. She was a board member of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, which named a gallery in her honor, and the Houston Business Council.
An active philanthropist, Tatkon was recognized in 1996 by the Nature Conservancy for her donation of the 40-acre Tatkon Reserve in the Berkshire foothills near Sheffield, Mass., where her former home is now headquarters for the Sheffield Land Trust.
Tatkon is survived by, among other family members, her daughter, Heather Tatkon Powers, a Cornell alumna, who resides in Somerville, Mass.
Memorial services were held in West Stockbridge, Mass., on Oct.13 and will be held in Houston on Oct. 16.
Donations in Tatkon's memory may be made to Cornell University, the University of St. Thomas, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Arboretum, Berkshire Botanical Garden, Houston Horticultural Society and the Nature Conservancy.