Lou Kutscher died peacefully, surrounded by three generations of family on May 21, 2020 in the home he, and his wife of 68 years, Joan, built together when they moved from Connecticut to Vashon Island, Washington, in the early 1990s.
The project began when Lou and Joan purchased a lot near their son, Ted, and his wife Susan’s, home. Joan and Lou spent four years, traveling between coasts, living on their new property in a canvas wall tent set on a plywood platform, while Lou worked side by side with a construction team to build their Tom Bosworth-designed home in time for the 1994 wedding of their daughter Anne.
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Lou was the only child of Louis F. Kutscher (Sr) and Anne Swinnerton Kutscher. During Lou’s early years and the Great Depression, the family went where work demanded, mostly in Connecticut and New York and even one job in Minneapolis. Later Lou boasted, with a mixture of amazement and humor, that he moved 32 times before he turned 14. He also enjoyed the camaraderie and consistency of at least two summers at America’s oldest boys camp, Camp Dudley on Lake Champlain in New York State.
Then, at Phillips Academy (Andover), which he attended, with pride, on scholarship, he thrived as an athlete and head waiter, making lifelong friends, and gaining his characteristic habits of hard work, persistence and humor that he exhibited throughout his life. He graduated from Yale University in 1950, majoring in history. That same year he met Joan Howard at a holiday party. In 1952, Lou and Joan wed at a small ceremony at her family’s home in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Living in the New York area, Lou worked as a salesman for the publisher Prentice Hall to support his family and pay for night classes in law at New York University.
In 1954, after their first child, John, was born and Lou began working for Architectural Record magazine, they moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where a second son, Ted, was born in 1956. In 1964, the family — now with daughter Anne — moved to historic Hudson, Ohio where Lou discovered his talent for renovating old homes. In 1968, Lou was promoted to sales manager for the magazine. The family was called back to the East Coast, settling in Southport Connecticut, after short stays in Fort Lee, New Jersey and Westport, Connecticut. Again, Lou dove into renovating a Victorian home built in 1860.
After moving to Vashon permanently in 1994, Lou embarked on a new career as an entrepreneur, which he described as some of his favorite years. He and Ted began their financial planning firm in Seattle, now Kutscher Benner Barsness & Stevens. Lou retired from the firm in 2007. Lou loved creating a home for his family. He was at his happiest when everyone convened after a long day of hard physical work for cocktails, followed by a good meal and a stimulating discussion (politics, anyone?) or a round of Broadway tunes at the piano. These vibrant family gatherings have become a joyous tradition for Lou’s children and grandchildren. Lou is survived by his wife, Joan, and their three children, John Kutscher of Seattle, Ted (Susan) Kutscher and Anne (Adam) Atwell both of Vashon Island, and five grandchildren, Ellen (Dave) Kim, Will (Erin) Kutscher and Teddy, Kate and Clara Atwell.