Cowles Family Matriarch and Wife of ‘Punch’ Sulzberger Dead at 75


Allison Stacey Cowles, a member of a Spokane family with large media holdings and the wife of retired New York Times patriarch Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, has died at the age of 75.

The Spokesman-Review said Cowles died late Saturday from pancreatic cancer.

Cowles married Sulzberger in 1996, four years after her first husband, William H. Cowles III, died of a heart attack while jogging. Sulzberger was chairman and chief executive officer of The New York Times Co.

The couple moved to Spokane several weeks ago after Allison Cowles was diagnosed with cancer.

Cowles was born in Elizabeth, N.J., and was the daughter of Evelyn Blackwood and Herbert Stacey. She graduated from Wellesley College and received a master’s degree in history from Radcliffe College.

She married Cowles, whose family owned The Spokesman-Review newspaper and had many other business interests in the Spokane region. William Cowles was president and publisher of The Spokesman-Review when he died in April 1992 at the age of 60.

Allison Cowles served as a national board member of the Smithsonian Institution and on corporate boards. She was chairwoman of the advisory board of the Spokane branch of Washington State University.

She served on the Washington State Council for Postsecondary Education for 12 years and was a member of the Governor’s Temporary Committee on Educational Policies, Structure and Management. She was also a trustee of Whitman College and Wellesley College.

“She was very busy,” said her son, W. Stacey Cowles, who is publisher of The Spokesman-Review. “My very first real recollection of her is that she is on the phone, and I had one of those little Fisher-Price phones, and, of course, I was always imitating her on the phone.”

Her daughter, Betsy Cowles, who is chairwoman of Cowles Co. in Spokane, said while her mother was conservative politically, she was also a feminist.

“She was a very independent woman who just by her example mentored a lot of younger women,” Betsy Cowles said. “That generation laid the groundwork for our generation. A woman could have both a career and a family.”

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