Gavin Hougham, son of former Miss Harker’s School student Daphne Wade Hougham (nee Daphne Lee Wade), was saddened to report that his mother passed away on Nov. 26, following complications from a vascular stroke earlier this past summer. She was 78.
Hougham is mourned by Gavin, his brother, Gareth, and father, Robert. Hougham attended Miss Harker’s School for Girls from Sept. 1948 – June 1952 as a boarding student. Among her many accomplishments was an active senior year, when she was student body vice president, editor of The Echo (yearbook) and social activities chairman.
Hougham was born in Hankow, China (now Wuhan) in 1934 to American parents. Her father was working there, managing a branch of the First National City Bank of New York, part of what later became Citibank. The family moved to Hong Kong as the Sino/Japanese campaign intensified, and on the eve of WWII, she and her mother fled their home in July 1940.
They booked passage onto one of the last civilian repatriation voyages to leave China on the SS President Coolidge, later converted to a military transport ship. The Coolidge stopped in Japan on the way home in spite of rising international tensions, where she ”won” eight little pearls at a dockside oyster picking stall. She wore earrings made from two of those pearls her whole life. Growing up she spent many years in U.S. expat communities around the world, including India and Beirut, Lebanon.
At the University of California, Santa Barbara, she met her future husband, Robert H. Hougham, and the two married in 1954 in New York City. After two years in Greenwich Village, where she worked for Bell Telephone and did some modeling, the couple moved to Florence, Italy for a year. Upon their return to the U.S. in 1957, she pursued a lifetime career in publishing, with editorial jobs at New American Library, Combined Book Exhibits, Stein & Day Publishing, and finally at Reader’s Digest Books.
After retiring, she built a thriving editorial consulting practice with her husband, and her last job, with a British publisher, was completed just days before her June hospitalization. A zoology/biology major in college, she retained a life-long interest in the quiet beauty of the natural world, spending the last 30 years of her life in a forested home on the banks of the Croton River, in Ossining, NY.
A voracious reader, one of her favorite pastimes was reading novels before dinnertime, dipping her feet into the river while floating on a small rubber rowboat. Another lifelong interest was in the arts, and became a prize-winning fabric artist, specializing in fine weaving, but also including tapestry, needlepoint, quilting, and knitting.
She leaves sons Gavin W. Hougham and Gareth G. Hougham, granddaughters Victoria K. Hougham and Aislinn K. Hougham, brother Michael Wade, and beloved life partner and husband Robert H. Hougham. Memorial services will be scheduled after the New Year in Westchester County, NY; details will be posted on Gavin Hougham’s Facebook page.