From left, Jill Goldy, M.S. ’78; Patricia Carry Stewart ’50; and Linda Gadsby ’88 at the 2015 annual meeting of the President’s Council of Cornell Women, which Stewart helped to found.

Patricia Carry Stewart ’50, trailblazer for Cornell women, dies at 94

Trustee emerita and Presidential Councillor Patricia “Pat” Carry Stewart ’50, a longtime supporter of the university who was instrumental in the founding of the President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW), died Aug. 10 in Florida. She was 94.

"Pat Carry Stewart was a wonderful leader and advocate for Cornell,” said President Emeritus Hunter R. Rawlings III. “She loved the university, knew all its elements, worked collegially always, and had the kind of common sense so much needed to make a positive difference in debates and controversies.”

Patricia Carry Stewart

Stewart majored in French and linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Graduating in an era in which women were trying to find their place in society after World War II, she became a groundbreaker for women in business. She began her career as a foreign correspondent for the Irving Trust Co., then later become a partner and then president of the New York Stock Exchange firm Buckner & Co, where she was one of very few women leaders on Wall Street at the time.

Following her career on Wall Street, she served as vice president for finance and administration at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

She served on many corporate boards, including, among others, Trans World Airlines, F.W. Woolworth Co., Continental Corporation, Borden Inc., Morton-Norwich Inc., Bankers Trust Co., CVS Corporation and New York City’s Financial Services Corporation.

“She was a very astute businesswoman. Pat was quite the force,” said Susan Murphy ’73, Ph.D. ’94, Cornell’s former vice president for student and academic services. “You just knew you were dealing with someone who wasn’t going to suffer fools, who was very accomplished and expected you to be really accomplished. And you just rose to that occasion.”

Stewart generously gave her time and skills to Cornell, serving as vice chair of the board, a trustee and a presidential councillor, through six university presidents. She also served as member of the advisory councils for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Stewart chaired her class reunion campaigns; the Cornell Annual Fund; Cornell University Council; and the trustee committees on alumni affairs and development, academic affairs, campus life and board membership. She also served as a member of the Board of Fellows at Weill Cornell Medicine.

In the late 1980s, Stewart and Lilyan Affinito ’53, who’d met stuffing envelopes for the Cornell Women’s Club, approached then President Frank H. T. Rhodes with ideas about establishing a group for engaging successful women, showing them what was happening at Cornell and encouraging them to share their expertise to help the university.

These women, then, would become role models for students and faculty; raise awareness of what women could do; and make way for more women leaders among volunteers, faculty, and students. From their ideas, Rhodes established PCCW in 1990, a time when few other universities and colleges had such an organization. Today, PCCW continues with a mission to advance the involvement and leadership of Cornell alumni to support women’s issues and gender equality.

“To have the vision to found this organization really speaks to Cornell identifying engaged alumnae who want to have an impact,” said Valisha Graves ’85, PCCW chair, who first met Stewart during her time as an undergraduate in A&S.  “PCCW is an enduring organization and we’re all the beneficiaries of Patricia’s leadership.”

PCCW has had more than 1,100 members since its founding, many of whom have gone on to serve on Cornell University Council and the Cornell Board of Trustees, among other volunteer roles with the university. The organization also has provided more than $340 million in funding to Cornell.

Two scholarships, the Patricia Carry Stewart President’s Council of Cornell Women Scholarship and the President’s Council of Cornell Women Cornell Tradition Fellowship, have together supported nearly 80 students. PCCW’s Affinito-Stewart Grant program, which aims to increase retention of women faculty and faculty conducting research and scholarship into women’s issues and advancement, has awarded more than $1.8 million in grants to faculty members since its establishment in 1990.

Stewart and her husband, Charles T. Stewart ’40, were honored with the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award in 2002 and recognized as Foremost Benefactors of Cornell in 1995.

Starr Todd is a writer for Alumni Affairs and Development.

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