Martha Klayf Everett ’77: A Life Remembered August 12, 1955 - September 11, 2012

July 11 2017
Category: Alumni

Dedication for Martha Klayf Everett '77

Classmates, former professors, and friends gathered in Tompkins Lounge during Reunion 2017 for a memorial service to remember and honor the life of Martha Klayf Everett ’77, a special alumna who positively impacted their lives.

Classmates remembered Martha as one of the “most charismatic and complete individuals” they knew. All mentioned her positive spirit and her highly distinctive voice. Armand Battisti ’77 remembered that she arrived with so many belongings that they would barely fit in the federated jet that brought her to campus. He recalls learning from her, the importance of being enthusiastic. “She just knew how to put a positive spin on everything,” he said. “I thought that was a sign of leadership. I learned that you could motivate people by being positive. She always chose the high road… She was fearless and confident.”  

Her professor, Dr. John McLaughlin, sent a note that they had exchanged Christmas cards for more than thirty years. Her psychology professor, Dr. David Mandelbaum, knew the Class of 1977 for only one year, yet significantly remembers that Martha stood out and recalled, “I remember her like yesterday. (Her) hair, freckles and, oh, that voice still resonates in my senses and memories as does her passion, humor and enthusiasm.” Andy Talbert remembered her “not just as a friend, but working with her and enjoying great conversations.”  

In her honor John McHugh ’80, the Everett family, and classmates from the Classes of 1976-1980 raised funds to endow The Martha Klayf Everett ’77 Scholarship to provide financial support to students who exhibit the same leadership qualities and involvement that Martha exemplified. Martha served as president of the Finance Board and as an executive officer on the Judiciary Board during her time at Elmira College.

Martha's Elmira College yearbook photo

John McHugh ’80 noted that what made this Reunion “that much more special is that on this year, the year of (Martha’s) reunion, we are able to award this scholarship for the first time.” The first recipient is Destiny Safford ’18, for whom this financial aid made an enormous difference.

Destiny expressed her appreciation to the class, “Growing up no one in my family ever mentioned college, because we did not believe it was a financial possibility. Elmira College has allowed me to build a future through participation in clubs like Student Alumni Council, Campus Activities Board, Active Minds, the Pre-law Club, and Orchesis. I have had the privilege of serving Elmira College and my fellow students as vice president of my freshman class, vice president of Twin Towers Hall Council, an Orientation executive, and, for the second year in a row, as volunteers executive chair for Reunion. Now, I am preparing to go to law school to become a guardian ad litem. I would like to thank all of you…scholarships like this one have opened doors for me, and I am truly grateful for all that I have experienced.” Destiny was grateful to be following in the footsteps of Martha who inspired all who knew her by the way she lived. The generosity of Elmira College alumni makes college a reality for many students like Destiny.

Martha’s daughter, Lauren, who could not attend the ceremony, sent this note: “I wanted to extend the deepest thanks and gratitude for the formation of the scholarship fund in my mother’s name. A lot of you were fixtures of the stories she told me as a child about her time at Elmira. And, believe me when I tell you, she told those stories with joy and admiration of her time there. If there was one thing my mom would fight for, it was education and scholarship. There is nothing more aligned with her legacy, memory, and love than the creation of this scholarship. With hope, it will remain a testament to her and a way to keep her in all our hearts for years to come.”

John noted that the journey to this scholarship was “long, emotional and at times confounding, but from its beginning during a lunchtime conference call to its fruition earlier this year, it has been nothing if not a labor of love for a munificent human being and a valued friend. So thank you to all of you who helped make this possible.”