Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 11 a.m.
Reception to follow in Fellowship Hall
First Congregational Church, Eugene
March 31, 1953 – September 29, 2023
Priscilla Josephine Gould was born March 31, 1953 to Naomi and Ralph Gould in Alton, Illinois. Naomi and Ralph were musicians, and met while singing with the St Louis Municipal Opera. Priscilla was the youngest of their three children; brothers Chris and John three and five years older. Ralph owned Gould Music Store, and when Priscilla was five years old the family and business moved to Stuart and then Cocoa, Florida. Ralph, who his children remembered as an exceptionally kind man, died suddenly and unexpectedly when Priscilla was 15. Somehow, with the help of family and Mrs. Ginnou, an older family friend, Priscilla was able to recover from this devastating loss. She finished high school and entered the wider world with an adventurous spirit.
From small town Cocoa, she moved to the only other place she knew someone, Boston, MA. After a year she gravitated to Boulder, CO, which brought back into her life the natural world in which she always found her greatest expression and which was always the anchor for her life and work. Brother John joined her there. A relationship took her to Chehalis, WA, where she started work at a domestic abuse hotline. It was there that she (and those around her) began to realize her talent for creating and directing an organization, her heart for non-profit organizations, and her commitment to putting community before self.
Forever grateful to the public library in Seattle, WA which would mail her books for study at no charge, she created a BA in Organization Studies with which she graduated from Antioch College in Seattle. With that degree she landed the position of Campaign Director of the United Way of Greater Tucson, AZ. After seven years in Tucson, her ever-growing talents and continued commitment to non-profit work led her to seek an Executive Director position within United Way. Eugene, OR was the lucky community which hired her in 1990.
Priscilla served as Executive Director of United Way of Lane County until February 2012. She deeply loved the community she found herself in, with its exceptionally rich collection of progressive agencies, some of which with or developing national reputations. She was visionary and strategic, and under her leadership United Way evolved from a fund raiser/distributor to an organization dedicated to improving lives by unlocking the caring power of community, collaborating with dedicated, talented agencies , volunteers, and a large broadly representative Board of Directors.
Her brother John, who has remained in Boulder with wife Annie, has throughout Priscilla’s life been the family touchstone keeping the history and spirit of the siblings alive. He introduced her to river running, with their most memorable adventures being extended trips down the Yampa River in 1996 and the Grand Canyon in 1998.
In between those trips, in 1997, Priscilla and husband Jon Stout were introduced to each other by mutual friend Jenny, meeting for the first time in Yachats after Jon declined to take “no” as an answer to his invitation. Their love grew deep into the foundations of their being, and continues to grow as a love meant to be shared with the wider world. Priscilla got Jon to join a three week Grand Canyon trip, and most recently in May down Oregon’s Owyhee River. Unforgettable memories.
In addition to many achievements in her local community, Priscilla served numerous terms on the National Professional Council, representing small to mid-sized United Ways. In 2000, she was invited as one of just 21 national staff and volunteers to serve on the Task Force on Strengthening the United Way System, whose recommendations dramatically transformed the network towards a focus on community impact. And in 2011, she led the United Way of Lane County to become one of 10 Mobilization Markets focused on making progress on financial stability. After leaving United Way, Priscilla continued to serve as a volunteer and board member in her community on issues of homelessness and healthcare philanthropy as well as with her First Congregational Church of Eugene. In 2017 the PacificSource Foundation for Health Improvement, whose board she chaired for years, honored her by naming one of their healthcare efforts The Priscilla Gould Healthcare Access Partners.
In retirement, in addition to her volunteer community engagements, she immensely enjoyed the opportunities for deep involvement in the lives of her grandchildren, ages 15, 13, 10, and 8, all in nearby Portland. They loved each other so much! And, she was back in the natural world almost daily now, locally at Mt. Pisgah and frequently at Cape Perpetua. Her constant companion her springer spaniel Gracie.
She passed on after a two month battle with an aggressive cancer. Her husband Jon was by her side at home when her beautiful spirit left her body quietly in that same early morning hour she was accustomed to rising to each day in this world, ready to start the next joyful journey.
She is survived by husband Jon, brother John Gould, step-daughters Erin and Megan, and grandchildren Mars, Damon, Talin, and Billie. And by the community which meant so much to her. She is preceded in death by her brother Chris, yet survived by his wife Bonnie and their two daughters, Francis and Kimberly.
Memorial gifts can be sent to Lane County United Way or to a nonprofit organization about which you are passionate.