Skip to content
For WHOI personnel, vendors, and visitors: COVID-19 Guidelines

Ruth Payan Clark

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with sorrow the death of former Member of the Corporation, Ruth Payan Clark, on April 23, at home in Palm Beach, Florida, surrounded by her family after a brief illness. She was 87.

Ruth was born on November 19, 1929, in Providence, Rhode Island, the only child of Frank Joseph and Mary Scanlon Payan. She attended the Mary C. Wheeler School.

In 1947 she married Everett Ware Cady, Jr., of New York by whom she had four children. She raised her family in Katonah, New York, and served on the Board of Trustees of the Bedford Rippowam School in the early 1960s. During that period she worked as a buyer for Plaza 21, a small exclusive dress shop in Bedford Hills, where she showed a flair for fashion and style which she maintained throughout her life.

During the mid-1970s, she and her husband moved permanently to a vacation house in Ferrisburg, Vermont. They divorced in 1978, whereupon she moved back to northern Westchester, New York and embarked upon a career as a travel agent at Bedford International Travel in Katonah.

In the fall of 1987, over the weekend of the marriage of her son, she met her second husband James McConnell Clark, and they married in 1996 in Palm Beach. Thereafter, the Clarks divided their time between Woods Hole and Palm Beach. She and her husband became engaged in several philanthropic projects, among them the Clark Cancer Center at Falmouth Hospital; the Wheeler School where they both were active in establishing a scholarship fund and the renovation of the Student Center; and the restoration of Highfield Hall and Gardens which was launched ten years ago. Ruth loved Highfield, was a trustee for nine years, and was elected Trustee Emeritus in 2011.

Widow of longtime WHOI Trustee Jim Clark, Ruth was a steadfast friend and supporter of the Institution.  Elected to the Corporation in 1994, she and Jim provided wise counsel to both science and the administration. Their steadfast generosity to research continues to advance the Institution’s programs. Ruth was a frequent visitor to the campuses and our dock, and her friendship and good humor will be sorely missed.

She is survived by her four children, Alison Martin of Falmouth; E. Ware Cady III of Charlestown, Mass.; Michael S. Cady, his wife Charlotte, of Greenwich, Conn.; and Anne Keegan, her husband John, of Waccabuc, N.Y.; her stepson, James M. Clark, Jr. and his wife Kathy of Dallas, Texas., and Woods Hole; five grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday, June 17, at 1:30 p.m., at the Church of the Messiah, 22 Church Street, Woods Hole, Mass., 02543.

Contributions in her memory can made to Highfield Hall and Gardens, PO Box 494, Falmouth Mass., 02541. For online guestbook, obituary and directions, visit

Some of the information for this obituary is from the Cape Cod Times.




Ruth Payan Clark