Lance C. Couturier, Ph.D.

Lance C. Couturier, Ph.D.

Lance C. Couturier, Ph.D., 70, of Lititz, PA passed away on Thursday, April 4th, 2019, following an acute period of illness.

Lance was the caring and affectionate husband to the late Katherine Devlin Couturier for 39 years, up until her death in 2015. Lance and Kate were a dynamic duo: in addition to a shared love of travel, literature, and their three children, they shared a mutual desire to work for social justice, evidenced as much by their chosen professions as by their tandem service on the Lancaster County Youth Aid Panel (YAP). Lance was an incredibly proud, supportive, and loving father, brother, uncle, and grandpa. He is survived by his three children (Graham, Greg, and Anna), his son-in-law Tyler, his daughter-in-law Susana, five siblings (John, Michelle, Denise, Andy and Anna Lisa), and one exuberant granddaughter, Sofia. In addition, Lance is survived by Nancy Wieman, his partner and "dear companion," with whom he shared a storybook romance over the past few years.

Born in Humboldt, Nebraska, Lance grew up in Evergreen, Colorado, before moving to Washington, DC with his siblings. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park and both a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master's in Psychology from Temple University. Over the years, Lance lived in Hyattsville, MD; Oxford, England; Philadelphia, PA; Ardmore, PA; and finally, Lititz, PA for the past 26 years.

Lance had a fierce and persistent belief in the value and worth of those incarcerated members of our society whom most others have given up on or written off, and he fought for a more restorative criminal justice system throughout his entire career. After earning his Ph.D., Lance worked at the Juvenile Justice Center in Philadelphia from 1976-1980, eventually being promoted to Director of the Center's Training Institute. From there, Lance went on to serve as Psychologist and Clinical Director at the Southeast Secure Treatment Unit (SESTU) in West Chester, PA, a position he held for over five years.

These early experiences propelled him into one of the defining roles of his life, serving as the Chief Psychologist at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, PA from 1985 to 1992. In this role, Lance directed the assessment and treatment services of inmates in PA's largest maximum-security penitentiary. During his tenure, Lance earned the Governor's Award for Management & Performance, as well as a Governor's Commendation for serving as the primary negotiator in a hostage-taking crisis that he successfully mediated.

In 1992, Lance was promoted to Chief of Psychological Services for the PA Department of Corrections (DOC), a position he held for 15 years until his retirement in 2007. In this role, Lance traveled throughout the state as the chief mental health officer and directed treatment and assessment in 27 different prisons. He relished this role, as it gave him the opportunity to coordinate and reform psychological services across the entire system. Lance poured himself into his work, combining passion and oddball humor to bring light and hope to countless incarcerated individuals.

As Chief of Psychological Services, Lance received commendations from both the PA and Louisiana DOC Commissioners for leading a disaster work team following Hurricane Katrina, the Outstanding Public Service in Criminal Justice Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an Employee of the Year Award from the DOC, and the Forensic Rights and Treatment Award. Over his career, Lance published several articles and manuals, including the training manual: Suicide in Custody: Self Instructional Course for the American Correctional Association. One of the causes for which he worked tirelessly was the prevention of suicide among inmates, and the PA Suicide Prevention Policy he co-authored was selected as a national model by the National Institute of Corrections in 1995.

In addition to his work in PA's prisons, Lance also taught at several colleges and universities: Forensic Psychology at Messiah College, Special Needs at Neumann College, Human Development at Temple University, and Child Psychology at Philadelphia Community College. Teaching and training were in his blood, and he relished the opportunity to design and implement curricula that were both light-hearted and meaningful for his students.

Following his retirement, Lance continued to work as a consultant for the DOC, most recently leading crisis intervention trainings for correctional officers and other DOC staff. He was a Senior Consultant/Trainer in Forensics for the Family Advocacy and Training Center for Serious Mental Illness in Philadelphia. He also served as a Psychologist and Hospital Staff Member for Philhaven Behavioral Healthcare Services in Mt. Gretna, PA, conducting therapy with clients in their Outpatient Clinic.

Lance's life was centered around service. Beyond his professional work, he served in the U.S. Military's Army Reserves from 1970-76, earning an Honorable Discharge at the rank of Sergeant E-5. Additionally, he volunteered extensively, serving as a Cub and Boy Scout leader in his son's scout troops, on the board of the Lancaster-based Center for Community Peacemaking, as well as on Lancaster County's Critical Incident Stress Management Team, Youth Aid Panel, and Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (a restorative justice program that brings offenders face-to-face with the victims of their crimes with the assistance of a trained mediator).

While his professional life was often serious, his manner was cheerful and droll. As a life-long artist, he filled his home, and the homes of many acquaintances, with beautiful watercolor paintings depicting not just the many Lancaster County farmland scenes that captured his creativity, but also the vistas, back roads, and harbors of the many other states and countries he visited. He loved to paint boats at anchor, the burnt umber and orange hues of fall, the deep greens and blues of summer days, and the way that sunlight dapples and drapes itself upon the world.

He was a truly exceptional man, and his death leaves a profound breach in the lives of those who loved him. Lance will be deeply missed, yet his memory will be celebrated-exuberantly-by the many people whose lives he touched.

A Memorial Service in his honor will be held on Saturday, April 13th at Charles F. Snyder, Jr. Funeral Home, 3110 Lititz Pike, Lititz, PA 17543. In lieu of a viewing, there will be two hours for visitation with the family from 1-3pm and a Service at 3pm.

To send online condolences, please visit

LNP Media Group, Inc.

Charles F. Snyder Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory

3110 Lititz Pike
Lititz, PA 17543