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Clarita Hunsberger Neher

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Neher, Clarita Hunsberger
Died December 6 in an Alzheimer's care facility in Fullerton at the age of 95. Clarita, a graduate of Jefferson High School in 1923, attended Stanford University, where she graduated in 1927 with bachelor's and master's degrees and Phi Beta Kappa honors. In 1929, Clarita married her high school sweetheart, Gerwin Neher. Both had careers in teaching and administration with the L.A. Unified School District. She retired in 1963 as Girls' Vice Principal at Burroughs Jr. High School. Clarita was a pioneer female athlete in the Olympic Games. In 1924, she dove from the ten-meter platform in the Paris games and in 1928 in Amsterdam. She made the opening dive at the dedication of the new Olympic pool in Los Angeles in 1932. In 1984, Clarita was active in the Olympic Organizing Committee. As a member of the Olympic "Spirit Team", she spoke throughout California, encouraging interest in the Olympics by describing her experiences and emphasizing the values of individual achievement and sportsmanship over political counts of gold medals. After retirement, Clarita volunteered as a guiding docent at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she served until 1982. She served as president of the Docent Council in 1972-73. Clarita and Gerwin were avid world travelers and photographers. She visited the seven continents; these visits included Antarctica, Bhutan, Mongolia, Siberia, Borneo, and Ladakh. She made nine trips to India including several funded by the Indian Tourist Office and became an authority on Indian art. She and Gerwin won awards from the Los Angeles Cinema Club for their travel documentaries, which also were presented to the Photographic Society of America. Clarita frequently served cruise lines and tourist agencies by presenting art and culture lectures to tourists during trips to China, New Guinea, Japan, and the Galapagos Islands. Throughout her life she maintained her athletic training discipline. Until recent years she swam every day; she swam in the seven seas; she mandated that all visitors to her home follow the house rule to swim before breakfast, rain or shine. She loved to dance; she relished a good hand of bridge; she loved learning and eagerly attacked books to study the religion, art, and culture of every place she traveled. Gerwin died in 1983. Clarita moved from the Los Angeles family home to the Regents Point Retirement Home in Irvine and there met and married John Chapman in 1985. In 1991 she was declared legally blind due to macular degeneration. In 1996 she moved to Sunflower Gardens, a care facility for persons with dementia. John passed away shortly after. Her families mourn the loss of Clarita. Her son, Clark, and his wife, Arlene, live in DeKalb, Illinois, where he retired as professor of Political Science and Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University. Nancy Carlson, Clarita's daughter, and her husband Bruce, are retirees of the L.A. Unified School District, and live in Sunnyvale, California. Five grandchildren and five gret-grandchildren survive Clarita. Arrangements will be private.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 9, 2001
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