The Woodlands mourns loss of Coulson Tough, architect and community leader

Coulson Tough, who died Jan. 27, was part of The Woodlands community since its inception. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
Coulson Tough, who died Jan. 27, was part of The Woodlands community since its inception. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

Coulson Tough, who died Jan. 27, was part of The Woodlands community since its inception. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

Coulson Tough, a founding member of The Woodlands community for whom a Conroe ISD elementary school is named, died Jan. 27.

Tough's death was confirmed by the Tough Law Firm—founded by his son, Bruce—in a statement Feb. 1.

"It is with deep sadness that we inform you about the passing of Coulson Tough on Thursday, Jan. 27," the statement read, noting the funeral will be held at The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, 4881 W. Panther Creek Drive, The Woodlands, at 2 p.m. on Feb. 4.

Coulson Tough had been chief architect for The Woodlands Development Co. and an advisor to George Mitchell, the founder of The Woodlands, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Among his accomplishments, he contributed to the design and development of commercial projects in The Woodlands; he helped to create the township's outdoor sculpture program; and Tough Elementary School in CISD is named after him.

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Coulson Tough," CISD officials said in a statement. "He made a tremendous impact on our community. We are proud that his legacy will live on in our school bearing his name."


Superintendent Curtis Null also offered remarks on Tough's death.

"[I am] sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Coulson Tough," Null said. "He was a fine man, community leader and the namesake of [Coulson Tough Elementary School]."

Officials in The Woodlands Township remembered Tough in a statement as well.

"The Township mourns the passing of Coulson Tough, one of the original visionaries of The Woodlands. We are thankful for his contributions to our hometown," officials said in a statement.

In addition to his work as an architect and as a member of the CISD board of trustees, Tough was also a past chair of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce in 1985-86, President and CEO J.J. Hollie said.

"I had the distinct pleasure of spending a lot of time with Coulson over the past few years ... and I got to listen to him, and he was an absolutely amazing individual," Hollie said. "The thing I most appreciate is that a lot of communities don’t have the advantage of having the people around that started the communities. ... He had great stories about how The Woodlands was created and some of the hurdles they had to overcome."

The Howard Hughes Corp., which has owned The Woodlands Development Co. since 2011, remembered Tough as an instrumental leader in the formation of The Woodlands.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Coulson Tough," said Jim Carman, president of The Howard Hughes Corp., Houston Region. "Mr. Tough had a significant role as a leader in the design and creation of The Woodlands we know today. We will always consider Coulson as one of the founding members of The Woodlands and as a friend."

in a statement, The Howard Hughes Corp. described Tough's work with Mitchell and the development company since 1973 in the initial commercial design and development of The Woodlands. Tough retired in 2003. He also played a major role in the creation of The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, according to The Howard Hughes Corp. Tough was the first recipient of The Woodlands Hometown Heroes award in 1999 and was also a member of The Woodlands Rotary Club.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.