This is how she described teaching in 1975: “You get paid for sharing your mind,” she said. “If I were any happier, it would be immoral or illegal.”
The UD professor emerita died Saturday, March 4, at Baylor Scott and White Irving after collapsing at her Irving home. She was 86.
A memorial was held Thursday at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church, where she had been an active member.
“The single word that describes her best is feisty,” said Barbara Khirallah, a former student of Clodfelter and now a UD education professor. “She was very spirited and spoke her mind. Sometimes that would get her in trouble.”
Clodfelter was petite, spunky and hardworking, said Sybil Novinski, a former colleague who is now UD’s archivist.
While Clodfelter could seem abrupt, “it was just that she was getting things done,” Novinski said. “She cared deeply about her students. Her belief in her students and her sense of them was just remarkable.”
Clodfelter was known for her sayings.
“I loved the way she said, ‘We do not do teacher in-service training,’” said her brother, Ron Clodfelter, of Irving. “‘We educate teachers. We train seals.’”
Clodfelter was born in Bartlesville, Okla., where her parents were educators. She received her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University, where she was a member of Kappa Delta sorority. She earned her master’s from Texas Woman’s University, and a doctorate in a joint program between TWU and George Washington University.
Clodfelter joined the UD faculty in 1970. She became a professor, chairwoman of the education department and served on the faculty senate.
“She taught the famous course Child and Young Adult Literature,” Novinski said. “We all simply referred to it as kiddie lit.”
Clodfelter wanted to leave her students thirsting to learn more.
“She would read a book to us in children’s literature and we would be just enthralled, because she was an outstanding reader,” Khirallah said. “Then she would stop right at that critical moment in the book and we would beg her to finish.
“And she would say, ‘No, no. You can just check out the book.’”
Clodfelter brought authors to the Irving campus and arranged to make them available at book signings, visits and workshops at the city library.
“She really made a difference all the time, which is what she expected her teachers to do,” Novinski said.
From 1982 to 2004, Clodfelter was a young adult and children’s book critic for The Dallas Morning News.
She was active with groups including the Sunrise Rotary, the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and Irving ISD. She was the chamber’s Woman of the Year in 1999.
Clodfelter helped develop the 18-volume Reading Basal Series published by Harper & Row. She was senior editor for the books designed to teach children reading in grade-level steps.
In 1974, the International Reading Association named her the College Teacher of the Decade.
“She was the most effective and best teacher I ever experienced, hands down,” Khirallah said.
Clodfelter retired from UD in 2007, the year she published her last book, “Books That All Children Should Hear and Read: Perpetuating the Stories.”
She is survived by her brother, a retired Texas A&M University developmental psychology professor.