FORMER EMORY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR CLYDE “DOC” PARTIN PASSES AWAY
(June 16, 2009) – Clyde “Doc” Partin, an icon at Emory University through his years of devoted service to the school, passed away on Tuesday afternoon. He was 84 years old.
Partin served the University for over 50 years in the physical education department including a distinguished stint as the school’s athletic director (1966-83) and department chair of Health and Physical Education from 1966 through 1986. During his tenure as athletic director, Emory athletics saw unprecedented growth culminating in the construction of the Woodruff PE Center which opened in 1983. The number of intercollegiate sports expanded as well with women’s tennis being added in 1975 followed by women’s cross country and track field in the early 1980s. In addition, he was the original founder and driving force of the Emory Sports Fitness Camp which is now in its 45th year of operation. From 1986 until his retirement in 2002, Partin was as a professor in physical education. He also made his impact felt in the coaching ranks during his tenure as an assistant coach with the baseball and softball programs. In 2007, an endowment was established to name Emory’s athletic director’s position, the Clyde Partin Sr. Director of Athletics.
“Emory has lost probably the single most influential person in the development of athletics at the University,” said Emory Athletics Director Tim Downes. “But more importantly, we have all lost a dear, dear friend and our daily reminder for why we chose to be at Emory and to do the work that we do.”
Partin arrived on the Emory in campus in 1946 after service with the United States Navy during World War II. He then went on to earn two degrees at Emory, earning his bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences in 1950 and his master’s in education in 1951. An instructor in the physical education department in 1951-52, he took a similar position at Oxford College of Emory from 1953 through 1956. In 1956, he returned to the main campus until his retirement.
Partin received over 35 citations and recognitions and had two awards named after him. In 2002, he was awarded the R. Tait McKenzie Award by the American Alliance of Health, Physical education, Recreation and Dance, the organization’s most prestigious award. He was the author of numerous biographical sketches of baseball Hall of Famers including Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Earl Combs and Frank Robinson. Partin authored Athletics For All, which traced the history of Emory's Health, Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation from 1836 through 2005. He worked on numerous local and national committees and was a member of the NCAA Soccer Rules Committee as well as serving as the Chairman of the NCAA Division III Soccer Selection Committee. Doc was one of the approximately 110 finishers who competed in the initial Peachtree Road Race in 1970.
He is survived by his wife Betty, three children, Dr. William Clyde Partin, Jr 78C 83M 86MR, Keith Partin, Betsy Partin Vinson, and their families, which include many loving grandchildren.
Mike Twardoski – Emory Baseball Coach
“When I think about Doc Partin, I can say that some of the best times I’ve had here at Emory took place when I would go into his office. He meant so much to our program in so many ways. Doc loved Emory, and our players have seen that over the years and have drawn off of that. He spent countless hours with our players both on and off the field and influenced many lives in a positive manner. Whether he was throwing batting practice or writing letters of reference, there was nothing Doc would not do to help a kid. There is a reason why we retired his number and one of my proudest moments here took place when we named the batting cages at Chappell Park after him.
And while Doc bled Emory, people loved and respected him as well. When fundraising for the batting cages, I sent one newsletter out saying that the facility was going to be named after him – one month later we had $85,000 for the project.
In 2000, when the baseball All-Star game was in Atlanta, the Hall of Fame Game was played here. One of the guys who played was Ferguson Jenkins, a great pitcher who Doc admired. I told Ferguson about how Doc wanted to meet him, and when the game was over, Ferguson told everybody to stay put in the field and then called Doc up to the plate. Well, the first pitch almost hit Doc and he hit the dirt. We helped him up and on the next pitch, he hit a shot down the line. Once, Doc got to first base, he was going crazy with his arms raised – he got a hit off a Hall of Fame pitcher.
He was a humble guy and, while he didn’t always like it when I did it, I was always proud and honored to introduce him as Coach Partin.”
John Curtin – Emory Men’s and Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field Head Coach
“Clyde Partin was the best of us. He was a mentor to many, a great story teller, the best ambassador Emory University ever had, a lunch buddy and a dead pull hitter. He knew everyone in town and everyone who knew him loved him. I learned a lot hanging around Clyde. He was the embodiment of the true sportsman and lived his life in a way I only wished I could. He taught me everything from “the beauty” of the properly executed Z-serve in racquetball to how to treat people. He wished my daughter a happy birthday on the Fulton County Stadium score board during a Braves game and made me a hero in her eyes. Clyde Partin will always be a hero of mine.”
Jenny McDowell – Emory Volleyball Coach
“Words can’t express what Doc Partin has meant to me and our volleyball team! His love for Emory, our athletes, and our community was something you felt the moment you met Doc. And from that moment, you knew you had a new best friend! His commitment to his family, his friends and his faith will be engraved in my heart and hearts of the thousands who have walked through the doors of the Woodruff PE Center forever.”
Mike Phillips – Emory Golf Coach
“It saddens me to witness Dr. Clyde Partin’s decline in health but I am confident that his mark on Emory and Emory Athletics and Physical Education will remain forever. “Doc” was instrumental in the development of the current state of Athletics for as long as I have known him.
I was hired by Doc in 1976 and I quickly learned how much he loved Emory. As a student, alum, coach and administrator for over 50 years, Doc worked relentlessly to improve athletics, physical education, recreation and dance…demonstrating his love as no one else. His affinity for baseball is known by all…from being the Official Scorer for the Braves for years to helping develop one of the top Division III Baseball programs in the country.
No peaks…no valleys, steady Clyde had a great sense of humor…sometimes it took you a while… but you would “get it”. Miss Clyde? His presence, yes! His legacy however, will be here for all to remember and enjoy.”
Don Schroer – Associate Professor/Former Chair of Health, Physical Education and Dance
“However impossible it is to sum Clyde Partin's life in a few words, suffice it to say he was a friend, mentor, a leader in his profession and dedicated to his family, his friends and Emory University. For those of us who worked for him and with him in athletics and recreation and in the physical education department, he allowed us to touch success because of his success. He nurtured the athletic program and built an infrastructure of facilities and programs for present and future generations to enjoy. Few have dedicated more time and energy to Emory University and no one has loved their alma mater more than Clyde."