Isabelle Atwood, Former Assistant Vice President for Business Services, Dies

A candle burning.

Isabelle Knowlton Atwood of Mansfield, former assistant vice president for business services, died on Aug. 29, after a brief illness. She was 93.

She was the twin daughter of Harold and Martha Halvorsen Atwood, born Nov. 24, 1918. Her twin, Harriett Cross Atwood, died in 1984. Isabelle was the last member of her family to carry the Atwood name and to live on Wormwood Hill where her ancestor, Thomas Atwood, settled in 1739. She attended all eight grades in the little red schoolhouse on Wormwood Hill, across the road from her home. After Windham High School she entered Willimantic State Teachers College, now Eastern Connecticut State University.

After briefly teaching elementary school, Atwood began employment with UConn in 1943. She began as a typist and worked her way up through the ranks from clerk, to accountant, principal accountant, assistant director, director, and assistant vice president for business services.

“Her energy and enthusiasm for life was contagious,” says Wayne Landry, supply manager, Central Stores.

When Atwood retired in 1991, she had more than 50 years of state service. However, she returned to the University working on Special Payroll for another 20 years 11 months, working part time continuously through the present.

“Isabelle was hopelessly in love with UConn and the students we serve,” says Glen O’Keefe, bursar. “Even in retirement, she would often call me advocating on behalf of students whom she knew to be having difficulty.”

Emeritus professor Gregory J. Anderson, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, says, “Isabelle was part of the ‘institution.’ She knew the fiscal operations of the State and of the University better than anyone for a very long time. She not only knew fiscal operations, but in her inimitable, low key, but clear and forthright way (and her fine eastern Connecticut accent), would tell you about it, and help you work with it … not go around it.”

In addition to a full professional life, Atwood was also active in the Mansfield community.

“For many of us, she was a part of the definition of the fabric of Mansfield and New England,” says Anderson. “We learned from her so much of the local history, and more, how to appreciate the objects, mores, and patterns of life in rural New England.”

She was a founding member of both the Mansfield Historical Society and Joshua’s Tract Historic and Preservation Trust and devoted much energy toward their causes. She also chaired the Mansfield Cemetery Committee and served on the Mansfield Beautification Committee, as well as on many other boards and committees in Mansfield and the University. She attended all of the home UConn women’s basketball games.

At Atwood’s request, her burial will be private and there will be no memorial service. Anyone wishing to make memorial contributions in her name may contribute either to the Mansfield Historical Society (P.O. Box 145, Storrs, CT 06268), or Joshua’s Trust (P.O. Box 4, Mansfield Center, CT 06250). For an online memorial guestbook, please visit