NORTHAMPTON – Martha Clute, 85, of Pilgrim Drive, passed away at home Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013.
Born June 25, 1927, in Elmira, N.Y., Martha was the daughter of the late Leslie Douglass Clute and Gladys Gridley Clute.
A 1944 graduate of Kent Place School, Summit, N.J., and a 1948 graduate of Smith College, Martha earned a master's degree in education in 1954 from Stanford University.
She began a teaching career as a physical education instructor at Kimberley Academy, Montclair, N.J., and in 1955 returned to Smith, joining the physical education department faculty and becoming an associate professor in 1974. While at Smith, she served three years as an advisor to the athletic association, four years as the intercollegiate coordinator and two years as the athletic director. Between 1971 and 1978 Martha coached varsity basketball for seven winning seasons, logging an overall record of 33-22 and a winning percentage of .621, the second highest in school history. The Pioneers went undefeated, 8-0, in the 1972-1973 season under Martha's leadership, winning against Mount Holyoke for the first time.
Following retirement in the early 1980s, Martha began a second career as a travel agent who navigated the globe while helping others do the same, affiliating most recently with Easthampton Travel of Easthampton.
Before Title IX, when female athletes were few, Martha Clute excelled at tennis, swimming, basketball and golf. She won the Elmira, N.Y., Country Club Championship 12 times between 1954 and 1984, and a tournament, the Martha Clute Invitational, is held each year at the club in her honor. She taught her niece and nephews, as children, how to swing a golf club, shoot jump-shots and swim freestyle in the open water. She gave hours to the New York State Golf Association that promotes golf statewide.
Active in the Smith College Alumnae Association, she became a noted fundraiser and a key to the establishment of Smith's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ms. Clute is survived by a sister, Mary Clute Lyon of Pittsford, N.Y.; a niece, Martha H. Lyon of Northampton; nephews Peter S. Lyon of Boylston and Douglass C. Lyon of Rochester, N.Y.; a grandniece, Hayley E. Lyon; and grandnephews Jared C. Lyon and John N. C. Lyon.
A memorial gathering will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Smith College Alumnae House.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the New York State Golf Association Foundation, 2717 Bellevue Ave., Suite 6, Syracuse, NY 13219.
Pease and Gay Funeral Service of Northampton is assisting the family.
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