The Matthew Honer and Larutha Odom Clay Preservation Scholars Endowment was created in 2015 in memory of Larutha M. Odom Clay. Distributions from this endowment provide for a stipend each year for a Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) student selected to participate in the Preservation Scholars Program.
Matthew Clay and Larutha Odom met as undergraduate students at PVAMU, and were active members of the campus community. She excelled as a leader of the Speech and Debate team, while he shined as a World-class track and field and football star.
The Clays married in 1950 and moved to the Beaumont/Port Arthur area where they served as educators for more than 70 years combined. Mrs. Clay taught English, speech, debate, drama and journalism at Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, TX, and at Hebert, Forest Park and Westbrook High Schools in Beaumont. Beyond the classroom, she helped the children of former students improve their writing skills, and conducted symposia, seminars, workshops and demonstrations via church and civic organizations to improve speaking and writing skills. Mrs. Clay also was known throughout the area and the state as a dynamic motivational and spiritual speaker.
Mr. Clay taught Mathematics and Industrial Arts and coached football, and track at Lincoln Jr. High and French High schools in Beaumont. He was also a sought-after draftsman and general contractor, designing and building/remodeling numerous homes, civic and religious structures throughout the Golden Triangle.
As advocates of civic and spiritual engagement, Mr. and Mrs. Clay were Life Members of the NAACP, and long-time Sunday School Teachers at their home church.
Mr. Clay was inducted into the Prairie View A&M University Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. Mrs. Clay was the first black woman to be inducted into the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 2004. As a founding member and secretary/treasurer of the Shankleville Historical Society, Inc., Mrs. Clay helped drive the Society’s 20-plus-years scholarship program for college-bound students, document the history of the Shankleville Community and the genealogy of its founding families, and organize the first Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival in 2014.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Clay also received their Masters degrees from Prairie View A&M University.
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