Home » Obituaries » Remembrance of the Life of Mary Louise Pope Clute CoL

Remembrance of the Life of Mary Louise Pope Clute CoL

Posted on November 24, 2015, by Loretto Community

Mary Clute
Mary Clute
March 7, 1924 – Nov. 24, 2015

Mary Pope Clute was born in Harlan, Ky. Her father, Charles Pope, met Louise Arrowood, a nurse from Mars Hill, N.C., while he was recovering in Harlan Hospital from an emergency appendectomy.  They fell in love and were married the next year.  Charles was a young widower with three children. Mary’s birth drew the family together in a special way.  Three more siblings followed, bringing the total to seven children.

Mary’s father worked in the Cumberland Hardware and Jewelry Store in Harlan; her mother left nursing to become a full-time homemaker and good neighbor, whose many gifts and works Mary remembered this way: “My mother was a loyal and caring friend to so many people. She often assisted local doctors at home deliveries and always helped her neighbors. She was an excellent cook and seamstress and loved to read. One of my earliest memories of Mother is seeing her at the dining room table reading the Scriptures and starting her long, busy day with prayer.  She taught all of us about love, that it is infinite, that it doesn’t restrict, that love just goes on and on and grows deeper.  Dad was her avid supporter.  Both my parents taught us respect for all people.”
Mary’s elementary and high school education took place in Harlan during the Depression years, which were full of changes for all the family. Mary’s older brothers and sister had to delay their dreams of going to college. Again, on Dec. 7, 1941, all their lives were challenged.  Mary wrote in her autobiography: “After graduation in 1942, everyone in our class realized that we were facing a lot of sacrifices. Our brothers and male friends were all leaving for service. [I went with] group of young women from my class to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to work for the Manhattan Project.  None of us knew what was being made there, only that it was part of a secret war project.  The day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima we workers found out about it through radio and the press. I was utterly shocked at what I had been part of, burst into tears, and resigned almost immediately. I can still feel that moment, which changed forever my feelings toward war.”

Just before the end of the war, on July 7, 1945, Mary met and married Sargent Edward Clute of the Army Corps of Engineers. After the war they moved to Troy, N.Y., then to Schenectady, where Ed took a position with General Electric. Mary’s religious background was Presbyterian, and Ed was Catholic.  Shortly after their marriage, Mary began instructions in the Catholic faith, and in 1947 became a member of the Catholic community. That same year, the first of their three children, Charles was born. Bobby arrived three years later and Betsy followed in 1957.  Bobby suffered a viral infection when he was 18 months old. The resulting brain damage caused cerebral palsy, with permanent mental and physical limitations.

Ed’s work took the family to Cleveland and, Erie, Penn., and finally back to Kentucky where they lived in Louisville.  Mary found educational opportunities for Bobby and became active with the Cerebral Palsy Center. The family cared for Bobby at home until he was 12, then settled him in a residential home where he was happy and well cared for. Bobby greatly enjoyed his frequent visits home for family celebrations, especially Christmas. He died four days after Christmas, 2004.

Mary added a third career to her nursing and homemaking, going to work as a dental assistant and training for additional duties. She enjoyed her work in several dental offices in the several mid-western cities where the family lived from 1968 to 1992.

Like her mother, Mary was a loyal and caring friend to many people, looking for ways to help her neighbors. Through the years Mary volunteered in a wide variety of works, issues and causes. The list she gave in her Loretto application reads: “Girl Scout leader for five years; receptionist for the cerebral palsy center for four years; a member of the board of director of that center for three years; band mother for the high school marching band; liteacty council member; tutor of remedial reading; worker in the parish food pantry and Joseph’s New Coats for needy children; leader of nature walks for school children; and Eucharistic minister for the homebound and nursing homes. For two years I taught dulcimer lessions in a senior center. Also enriching were the freedom marches in 1960, CCD classes, confirmation classes and work in a soup kitchen over the winter months.”

Early in the millennial year, 2000, Mary and Ed made their final move to Berea, Ky., where they met Loretto Co-member Elise Andre at St. Clare Parish Church.  Elise and Mary became friends and companions in parish and Berea College religious study groups. Mary described what happened next: “In the fall of 2000 Elise invited my husband and me to attend Mass and have dinner at the Motherhouse. We both were very impressed by the hospitality extended to us by everyone. The warmth, love and sense of peace that I felt made me want to know more about the Community. The following spring Elise invited us to attend the Saturday and Sunday Easter services at Loretto. When I sat in church on that Sunday it was just like coming home. I knew then that I wanted to become a part of this wonderful community and mission.”

Mary and Ed came to know many members through visits to the Motherhouse and other gatherings, including the Journey 2002 celebration in Santa Fe, N.M., where she and Ed witnessed the great diversity of Loretto’s works for peace and justice. Mary began the Co-membership process with Sister Mary Fran Lottes as her contact person and celebrated her Co-member commitment at Loretto on March 1, 2003. She said at that time, “Becoming more and more [acquainted] with the Loretto Community, with your deep faith, loving care for one another, and deep commitment to the poor, the mentally challenged, and all the mistreated, I am definitely drawn to becoming one of you.  I know it will deepen my faith and spirituality and help me take actions I would be unlikely do on my own.”

Mary committed herself especially to spending time in the Motherhouse Infirmary, where she loved to visit Loretto’s elders. She was a welcome companion and compassionate listener. She shared her musical gifts freely and thoroughly enjoyed those she visited. Gradually, Mary’s own health deteriorated. When in 2012 her beloved husband, Ed, died, Mary left the simple beautiful home they had shared and joined the Community in the Motherhouse Infirmary. She died peacefully Nov. 24, having lived fully and enjoyed deeply. Mary summed up her long and useful life: “I genuinely love people, and it gives me great joy to share with and help others.”


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  1. Avatar Maness Family on January 20, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Mary Clute was our neighbor in Berea. I am so blessed to have known her and been her friend. I have 2 young daughters who had the chance to listen to Mary play her dulcimer and she did try to teach my girls her gift.
    I am so saddened to just now learn of her passing. I miss meeting her out back and having a girl conversation.
    Thank you to all of you at the Loretto house for taking good care of her.

  2. Avatar adkins family on March 12, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Your mother was such a great neighbor and friend. I will truly cherish her quick wit and sunny disposition. She was like no other person I have ever met. She was an angel on earth and now she is an angel in heaven. I wished I had known sooner about her passing. Rest in peace dear friend. Libby Adkins

  3. Avatar Linda Hynson on February 7, 2024 at 9:09 am

    I was so fortunate to have the privilege of being befriended by Mary when we were both playing dulcimer in a monthly dulcimer playing group in 1991. Not long into the new year in 1992, I was about to give birth to my daughter, when my husband was called out of state for his father’s funeral. Mary stood ready to help, and in fact took my call in the middle of the night, drove me to the hospital and attended the birth of my daughter, coaching me through it and being the first person to hold and welcome my daughter into this world. I am forever grateful for her loving friendship. In her short time living in Asheville, she was an angel in disguise.

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