Texas Tech University

In Memoriam: Clara Mueller McPherson

Ashley Brister

May 25, 2023

Clara McPherson Texas Tech Memoriam

Remembering a food and nutrition pioneer

Clara Mueller McPherson, a former faculty member in the College of Human Sciences who touched the lives of many, passed away on May 22, 2023, in Lubbock, Texas, at the age of 101. Born on March 10, 1922, in Roscoe, Texas, she grew up on the family farm alongside two sisters and a brother. McPherson's formative years instilled in her the values of hard work, resilience, and compassion that she carried throughout her extraordinary life.

McPherson's thirst for knowledge was evident from an early age, and after graduating as the valedictorian of her high school, she pursued higher education at Texas Tech. In August 1943, she married Lt. Clinton McPherson, embarking on a lifelong partnership that lasted 70 years until her husband's passing in January 2014.

Her journey into the professional world began with a non-traditional role in a shipyard in Portland, Oregon, during the war effort. Later, she worked as a teacher in a Lanham Act Nursery School in Beaumont, Texas, and then in Oklahoma City, OK, where she laid the foundations for what would become the present-day Head Start program. Her passion for education and nurturing young minds became evident in these early roles.

McPherson Memoriam TTUDriven to expand her expertise, McPherson pursued a master's degree in nutrition. In 1955, she joined the faculty in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Texas Tech, dedicating 33 years of her life to teaching and shaping the lives of countless students. She became a pioneer in the nutrition industry, studying the long-range effects of establishing and maintaining good food habits during one's lifetime. McPherson's commitment to nutrition extended beyond the classroom as an active member of the American Dietetic Association, serving as a Registered Dietitian (RD). Her excellence in teaching earned her the Texas Tech President's Teaching Award in 1980, a testament to her dedication and impact as an educator. She also took on the responsibility of editing a column in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, a role that earned her the prestigious Golden Carnation Award twice.

Within the College of Human Sciences, McPherson held several leadership positions, including interim chair and director of the undergraduate program in dietetics. She was instrumental in establishing the Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management (RHIM) program, leaving a lasting legacy beyond her retirement as a professor emeritus.

"Clara McPherson left a monumental impact on the College of Human Sciences that will live on forever," said College of Human Sciences Dean Tim Dodd, Ph.D. "She was an outstanding professor in what was then the Department of Food and Nutrition and was a vital member of the team that established the Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management program. During and beyond her years as a faculty member, McPherson was committed wholeheartedly to advancing the lives of generations of students to come. Her establishment of four COHS scholarships and endowments helps to ensure that Texas Tech students will have the best research tools and resources to continue to advance the fields of food, nutrition, and dietetics. We will miss her greatly and thank her for all the tremendous contributions she made to the College of Human Sciences."

McPherson's passion for service extended far beyond the academic realm. When the Peace Corps trained on the Texas Tech Campus, she enthusiastically taught the nutrition segment, imparting her wisdom to future volunteers. In 1983, she was invited to participate in a three-week People to People Program in Australia and New Zealand, broadening her horizons and furthering her global perspective.

Worldwide, McPherson's impact on nutrition is evident. Her legacy will help shape the trajectory of future generations of Red Raiders. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to one of the Clara McPherson endowments at the link below.