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April 24, 2013

Susan Fenimore Cooper Weil

The Daily Star

---- — Susan Fenimore Cooper Weil

COOPERSTOWN — Susan Fenimore Cooper Weil, a lifelong water-colorist, died after a short illness at the age of 90, surrounded by her family, in her home in Cooperstown.

She was also a resident of Mount Kisco. A graduate of the Chapin School in New York and of Smith College, she worked for a decade at the American Museum of Natural History in its Photography and Preparations Departments, where exhibitions were designed, many of which persist to this day. At the museum, she worked under Margaret Mead for a time.

During World War II, she volunteered in the war effort, both in New York City and Cooperstown.

An early American woman ski racer, during winters while in her 20s she commuted every weekend from New York City to Stowe, Vt. She raced in giant slalom and downhill events, placing well in both the Easterns and Nationals, and ultimately declining an invitation to race in Europe on a three- woman U.S. team. She suffered a devastating leg break in the early 1950s, and stopped skiing competitively.

In 1953, after a long courtship, she married Peter Weil. They raised three children, while making several moves around the Northeast due to his work at IBM. Peter died in 1980, and Susan continued living between Cooperstown and Mount Kisco for the rest of her life.

Susie had a lifelong love of nature and the outdoors, and supported numerous conservation groups in Otsego County and beyond. She often rehabilitated wounded or orphaned animals and birds, and adopted feral cats. She walked daily with her dog until a few months prior to her death.

In her 80s, to her surprise, Susie was named by local philanthropist Hannah Lee Stokes as the Cooperstown representative to her posthumous Charitable Trust. She took great care in helping to disseminate Hannah Lee’s extraordinary gift to the Cooperstown community, with grants made to Bassett Hospital, Hyde Hall, The Otsego Land Trust, and The Smithy, with the hope of enhancing life for area residents.

Through all these years and right up till the last days of her life, Susie continued to paint watercolors, usually landscapes which centered on barns or farm houses. The paintings were often deceptively representational, but possessed an underlying complexity and feeling of mystery that many people admired.

She was an active member of The Katonah Gallery in the 1970s and 1980s. She showed her work in several galleries and in several one-person shows in Westchester County; Mt. Desert Island, Maine; and in Otsego County. Her line drawings were frequently published in the New Yorker magazine.

In Cooperstown, she was board president of the Cooperstown Art Association for many years, and of The Smithy-Pioneer Gallery for over two decades.

Up till the time of her death, Susie was a lover of reading, practical jokes, and hot fudge sauce.

At her death, there were several unfinished paintings, recently begun by her. They have the same strength and simplicity as most of her other paintings.

Aside from her art, she is survived by her three children, Susan Delancey Weil, Sara Weil and Henry F.C. Weil. She also took great joy in her five grandchildren, Dean, Peter and Glenn Weil, and Samantha and Benjamin Pious.

The funeral will be held at Christ Church in Cooperstown at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, 2013.

In lieu of flowers, donations would be welcomed at the Smithy Center for the Arts or the Susquehanna SPCA.

Arrangements are under the guidance of Tillapaugh Funeral Service, Cooperstown.