On February 4, 2015, Eleanor Clapp Smith passed away peacefully with family surrounding her at the age of 93. Eleanor was born September 7, 1921, in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Paul T. and Urith (Smith) Clapp. She is a descendent of Thaddeus Clapp and Jarvis Adams who were Michigan pioneer farmer families.
Eleanor graduated from Galesburg High School in 1939 and was the Kalamazoo County Tennis singles champion from 1936-1938. She continued to play tennis well into her 80s. Her education included Western Michigan University, E.W. Sparrow Hospital School of Nursing RN program graduating in 1943. Shortly after becoming an RN, Eleanor served as a Navy Nurse (Ensign) in World War II and was stationed at the Marine Corps base on Parris Island, SC. After the war she attended University of Michigan under the G.I. Bill and Johns Hopkins University. She resumed her nursing career as a visiting nurse in Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C. and in Richmond, VA. Her community work was well known at Sparrow Hospital where she served on the Women’s Board of Managers for 25 years and was the coordinator of the Free Breast Self-Examination clinic for 20. Eleanor co-authored Sparrow Tale I (history of Sparrow nurses) in 1987 and volume II in 1996. She contributed towards the advancement of medicine by participating in the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study in 1976 which was the longest most comprehensive study ever done on women and lasted for 25 years. She was a member of many organizations that included the Lansing Chapter of D.A.R., Sparrow Hospital Nurses Alumnae, P.E.O. sorority coordinator for International Peace Scholarship students at M.S.U. and Zonta Club. In her spare time she enjoyed playing and being a member of the Second Time Around Ladies Band for 25 years.
Eleanor is survived by 2 daughters, Mary Lou Smith of Boulder, CO, Marcia (David) Olds of East Lansing; 2 sons, Maurice (Marta) Smith of Grand Ledge and Bradley (Deborah) Smith of Indio, CA; 8 grandchildren, Eliza (Ryan), Charlotte, Robert, Nick, Justin (Sarye), Katie, Kelli (Todd) and Orion; 4 great-grandchildren, Berrick, Mitike, Karsyn and Dillon; 6 nephews, Paul, Steven, Jeffery, Joe, Al, Danny; and 4 nieces, Susan, Diane, Sue and Charlotte. Eleanor was preceded in death by her husband, Robert D. Smith and two sisters, Charlotte and Mary Louise.
Eleanor has unselfishly donated her body to the University of Michigan Medical School for medical research. A memorial service will be held at Plymouth Congregational Church at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2015, the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Her ashes will be interred at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, MI, at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20, 2016. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Plymouth Congregational Church or the Sparrow Foundation.