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Subject: Laura Houghton, Matriarch of Corning Family and Philanthropist

New York
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Date Posted: April 12, 2003 2:09:02 EDT

Laura Richardson Houghton, the matriarch of the glassmaking dynasty that has dominated Corning, a town in western New York, for five generations, died at her home there on Wednesday. She was 102.

Mrs. Houghton made her mark as a philanthropist after marrying Amory Houghton in 1921, the year he joined the family business. He was president of Corning Glass Works from 1930 to 1941, chairman from 1945 to 1961 and ambassador to France from 1957 to 1961. He died in 1981 at age 81.

Two of the couple's five children led the company. Amo Houghton Jr. was in charge for 20 years. In 1986, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he serves today.

At Corning, he was succeeded by James R. Houghton, who retired in 1996 after 13 years, and then returned to the top job a year ago.

Mrs. Houghton, a native of Providence, R.I., threw herself into the role of benefactor during her eight decades in Corning.

Among her favorite charitable causes were Corning Hospital, the Family Service Society and the Corning Area Youth Center, which she helped found. She was an honorary trustee at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1961.

Mrs. Houghton was a longtime supporter of Project Hope, the international medical education and training program, which operated a hospital ship, the Hope.

In addition to the two sons, Mrs. Houghton is survived by another son, the Rev. Alanson B. Houghton II; a daughter, Elizabeth Weinberg; 18 grandchildren; and 33 great-grandchildren. A daughter, Laura H. Beer, died on Sept. 22, 2000.

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