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Beryl Clotfelter Obituary

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Beryl Clotfelter

Grinnell, IA

March 23, 1926 - February 11, 2024

Beryl Clotfelter Obituary

Beryl Clotfelter, 97, of Grinnell, died at his residence in Beebe Hall of the Mayflower Community on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

A funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2024 at the Smith Funeral Home in Grinnell. Interment will be in Hazelwood Cemetery in Grinnell. A luncheon will follow in the Buckley Dining Hall of the Mayflower Community.

Memorials may be designated to benefit the Mayflower Community Human Needs Fund and mailed in care of the Smith Funeral Home and Crematory, PO Box 368, Grinnell, IA 50112. Memories and condolences may be shared with Beryl’s family online at

Beryl Clotfelter, the son of Cecil and Velma, was born in Prague, Oklahoma. When he was two years old, the family moved to Kansas. Beryl graduated from high school in Gypsum, Kansas in 1944. As an undergraduate at Oklahoma Baptist University, he met his future wife, Mary Lou. They were married in I951.

Beryl earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Oklahoma, with additional graduate study at The Ohio State University. After two years as a research physicist with a large company, he left industrial work for academia. He taught at the University of Idaho, Oklahoma Baptist University and from 1963 until his retirement in 1990, at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. During his Grinnell years, he did further study at Princeton University, Cambridge University, and the University of Edinburgh. He published two books and several papers.

For many years he was active in the Grinnell United Church of Christ, and more recently has been a member of Grinnell United Methodist Church. After retirement, Beryl did volunteer work, most notably with the Senior Health Insurance Information Program of the State of Iowa where he served as a volunteer counselor for 20 years. He also was Curator of the Physics Historical Museum at Grinnell College for several years. Until health problems forced a stop, he and Mary Lou traveled extensively. In 2012, Beryl and Mary Lou shared the Spirit of Giving, an award given by the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, a brother and his wife Mary Lou. He is survived by his children: Anne (John), David (Lisa) and Susan (Rudy); five grandchildren: Elizabeth (Neil), David (Maggie), Katharine (Wyatt), Daniel (Tracey) and Sarah (Oby); and three great-grandchildren: Abby, Peter and Evelyn.

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of Beryl Clotfelter hosted by Smith Funeral Home and Crematory.


Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of Beryl Clotfelter.