by Pete Mazzaccaro
Caroline Haussermann, a hall-of-fame US International for women’s lacrosse and field hockey and a former Hill resident who was one of the neighborhood’s most prolific volunteers, died of a heart attack at her home in Williamsburg, Virginia on Aug. 20. She was 92.
Haussermann was born in the Boston suburb of Milton, Mass. and graduated from Milton Academy, an independent preparatory school, in 1943. She went on to study occupational therapy at Vassar College but dropped out before graduating to volunteer in efforts to support U.S. troops during WWII.
After the war, Hausserman earned a spot on the Boston Field Hockey Association team which led to a spot on the U.S. national team, with which she participated in three international tours that took her to Scandinavia, Western Europe and Africa. During these tours, she struck up a friendship with England field hockey pioneer Maggie Boyd, who would later become a business partner.
In 1948 Haussermann was asked to join the faculty of the Winsor School, a college preparatory school for women in Boston. She taught a range of subjects and coached girls’ sports and later. She joined its mathematics department.
A successful teaching and athletic career didn’t prevent Haussermann from new opportunities. She and Boyd purchased naming rights for Camp Merestead, which was then and is today the preeminent girls’ athletic camp in the country. She had worked at the camp as a counselor for years. Haussermann opened new locations of the Camden, Maine camp in Vermont and Maryland and expanded its programs.
Haussermann’s work at the camp attracted the attention of the athletics department of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg Virginia. According to Haussermann’s life-long friend Millie West, Haussermann was asked to recommend candidates for a field hockey coach but decided to seek the position herself. She was named coach of the school’s squash team and founded its women’s lacrosse team in 1964. She served as that team’s coach until 1971.
Haussermann’s importance to women’s sports was recognized multiple times. She was inducted in the William and Mary Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2017, the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association named her one of 11 ‘trailblazers’ of the sport.
It’s not clear when Haussermann moved to Chestnut Hill. She coached women’s sports at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 and 1972 and worked as a nationally ranked umpire around that time. Her friend, Mrs. West, said Haussermann had friends in the area from her field hockey playing days and likely settled in Chestnut Hill for that reason.
By 1990, she was a regular presence in the neighborhood and served on the boards of numerous community organizations, including the Chestnut Hill Senior Center, Chestnut Hill Meals on Wheels and the Chestnut Hill Community Association. She was a CHCA officer and was also a chief volunteer and proponent of Chestnut Hill Town Watch. Before she moved to Williamsburg, Virginia approximately 10 years ago, she was an active volunteer who worked to plant flowers in the yard space next to Engine Company 37 on W. Highland Avenue.
“Caroline just loved Chestnut Hill,” West said. “And she always had time to give. Her main purpose in life was doing things for others.”
Marilyn Paucker, former president of the Chestnut Hill Senior Center, which changed its name to Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment, said Haussermann was instrumental in finding the center’s last home at 8431 Germantown Avenue. It closed last year for good.
“We weren’t sure where we were going to find space,” Paucker said when the center needed to move from a location it was occupying at Chestnut Hill Village. “Carol called and said, ‘I’ll find you a place.’”
Haussermann called Richard Snowden, managing partner of Bowman Properties, who agreed to renovate and donate the first floor of 8431 Germantown Ave. to the center.
In 2016, Haussermann was awarded the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Distinguished Service Award for her “many years of dedication to our community in so many ways.”
“She is a lover of all things Chestnut Hill,” said the CHCA’s Joyce Lenhardt, who presented her the award. “She has been a mover and a shaker and the entire community will be in her debt for many years to come.”
Haussermann was predeceased by her parents, Oscar W. and Eleanor R. Haussermann, her brother Bill, and his wife, Jean. She is survived by her step nephew, Benjamin Bradlee, Jr. and his children Greta, Joe, and Anna and a legacy of friends across the globe.*
A Celebration of the life of Haussermann’s life will be held at 3 p.m., Sept. 27th at Waypoint Restaurant, 1480 Quarterpath Rd, Williamsburg, Va. In remembrance of Caroline the estate has asked that donations be made to the Chestnut Hill Community Association, 8434 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19119, EIN# 46-5610889
* An earlier version of this story did not have the names of her parents or her nephew and his family.