It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Sophie Chandler Consagra, an integral and unique figure in the history of the American Academy in Rome. Her long relationship with the Academy began with her being hired as AAR director in 1980, then with her selection in 1984 as president. Sophie has the distinction of being the only individual to have held the position of both director (1980–84) and president (1984–88) of the American Academy in Rome. In 1988 she was appointed vice chairman of special programs at AAR, and she was later elected trustee emerita. Sophie remained actively involved with the Academy, notably helping to launch the McKim Morgan Society in 1994 (of which she was a member).
Born in Radnor, Pennsylvania, and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Sophie graduated from Smith College in 1949. (She was later awarded the Smith College Medal in 1986.) In 1952 she received her master of arts degree from Newnham College at Cambridge University in England. Sophie served as executive director of the Delaware State Arts Council from 1972 to 1977, and then as the director of visual arts and architecture at the New York State Council on the Arts from 1977 to 1980. In addition to her work and involvement with the Academy, Sophie held several other important positions, including serving on the Fulbright Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange between Italy and the US, the Eisenhower Commission for Exchange Fellowships, and the National Endowment for the Arts’ Music Advisory Panel for Policy and Planning.
Sophie was a direct descendant of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and of Abiah Folger Franklin, who was Benjamin Franklin’s mother. She was an avid sailor and lifelong member of the Nantucket Yacht Club on Nantucket Island, where she summered all her life. Sophie is survived by her four children: Maria Consagra of Faedo, Italy; Pier Luigi Consagra of New York; Francesca Consagra of Austin, Texas; and George Consagra of San Francisco, California; and six grandchildren.
Sophie will be remembered for her generosity and thoughtfulness to the Academy after her retirement, for the support she provided to her successors, and for her bright presence at trustee emeritus lunches.