Karen T. Hughes P’05, P’07

Karen T. Hughes P’05, P’07 died on September 16, 2020, in New York.      

(The following notice was shared by President Rose on September 18, 2022)

To faculty and staff,

I am very sorry to report the death of Trustee Emerita and Bowdoin parent Karen T. Hughes on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, in New York, after a difficult fight with mesothelioma. Karen led a life of service to others, and her positive energy and her years of dedication to the Parents Fund, the board of trustees, and the Bowdoin community have helped to make the College a stronger and more welcoming place.

Karen was born on March 19, 1949, to Edward and Ruth (Scheidecker) Toohey. She graduated from Wells College in New York in 1971. Right out of college, she worked with the foster home department of the Children’s Aid and Adoption Society of New Jersey. She married Jefferson E. Hughes Jr. in October of 1972.

Their involvement with the College began when their son, Andrew, entered with the Bowdoin Class of 2005 in the fall of 2001, and it deepened when their daughter, Alexandra, arrived with the Class of 2007 two years later. Karen and Jeff served as co-chairs of the Bowdoin Parents Executive Committee and the Senior Parents Gift Campaign. Karen was a member of the Campaign Planning Committee and the National Campaign Committee for The Bowdoin Campaign (2004–2009). She was elected to the board of trustees in 2006, where she served on the Development and College Relations Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, and the Subcommittee on Honors. In 2011, she was elected trustee emerita.

In 2005, Karen and Jeff established the Hughes Family Summer Research in Environmental Scholarship Fund and the Hughes Family Art History Acquisition Fund to support the disciplines that enriched lives of Andrew and Alexandra as Bowdoin students. These are precious gifts that speak eloquently of Karen and Jeff’s generosity of spirit.

For a number of years, Karen was executive vice president of Polskin Arts and Communications Counselors, a New York public relations firm that was a unit of Ruder Finn (subsequently Finn Partners). Karen’s commitment to service and philanthropy led her to leadership positions on the Major Gifts Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the boards of the New York Ballet and the School of American Ballet, and the Lymphoma Foundation. She was also a trustee of the Allen-Stevenson School in New York City, a trustee of the Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York, and vice president and a member of the board at Samaritan House. She and Jeff were generous supporters of environmental organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, the Quebec-Labrador Foundation, the Peconic Land Trust, and the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

We are grateful for the many ways that Karen has touched the lives of members of the Bowdoin community—in the past, the present, and into the future. It is a remarkable legacy, and one that is shared with her husband, Jeff, her son, Andrew ’05 (Eliza D. Johnson) of San Francisco, California; her daughter, Alexandra ’07 of Aspen, Colorado; and two grandchildren.

Julianne and I join the entire Bowdoin community in expressing our sorrow at her passing, and our profound gratitude for all that she has done to make the College better and to inspire us.



1 Comment Karen T. Hughes P’05, P’07

  1. Sandra Ruch

    Karen was a dear friend and colleague and we shared our passion for the visual and performing arts . She was a perfectionist and gave her enormous energy and enthusiasm to
    the various causes she supported. Karen was a devoted mother and wife and will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.


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