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Carol C. LaPides

Carol C. LaPides


Elizabeth Carol Clay (Betty Carol) was born on Christmas Day in 1938 to Henry Leonard Clay, Jr. and Elizabeth Clay (nee Harshbarger), in Huntington, West Virginia. The family lived in both Huntington and Milton, West Virginia, before relocating to Clermont, Florida in 1948. Carol and brother Henry L. Clay III (Hank) grew up surrounded by a large extended family including their paternal grandparents as well as numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. These foundational bonds endured for Betty Carol throughout her life and imprinted her with the importance of family and a strong moral compass. After completing the eighth grade—during which her Aunt Kay was one of her teachers—the family moved to DeLand, Florida. Betty Carol attended DeLand High School, where her father was the principal. In addition to playing in the band and singing in the choir, her favorite activity was taking her beloved dog, Rex, to the lake for a swim. Thus began her long love of dogs—and later cats. She would continue to surround herself with animals until she was no longer physically able to care for them.


Graduating from DHS in 1956, Carol entered Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia as a freshman in the Green Knight class. She also stopped using her first name, preferring to be known hence as Carol, although her classmates at Wesleyan preferred to call her “Claypot.”  She excelled academically and became an avid soccer player. Carol completed her A.B. degree in Psychology in 1960 and promptly moved to Atlanta.


She initially worked in Atlanta for the Crawford Long Hospital School of Nursing as a leisure and fitness instructor. In January 1962, she married her one true love, H.B. (Tony) LaPides.

Her role as an instructor at Crawford Long ultimately set her on a career path as an elementary school teacher; a path to which she would dedicate more than thirty years from 1963 to 1996. For more than a generation, she influenced many young minds with her wit, humor, and dedication to excellence in pedagogy. Carol taught second grade for the first six years, after which she taught third grade. She completed her Master of Education at Georgia State University in 1974, which she considered one of her proudest accomplishments. In 1975, her principal promoted her to Lead Teacher in recognition of her expertise in how children learn, her creativity in the classroom, and her mentorship of other teachers. The promotion allowed her to work with small groups of gifted children.


Many of Carol’s former students remained in contact with her throughout her life. Watching them grow from 8- and 9-year-olds into adults filled Carol with immense pleasure and satisfaction. Her vocation may have been inevitable: both her parents and her aunt Kay were educators. Carol and several others in succeeding generations of the Clay family have continued that tradition.


Carol embraced retirement by playing singles and doubles tennis in a league for seniors. She made her first trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria with a group of friends and former colleagues. She also took a Mediterranean cruise with dear friends. Carol and her husband, Tony visited their son in London and took the opportunity to make an excursion to Paris and the battlefields of Normandy. A few years after Tony passed away, she returned to Florida as a resident of John Knox Village in Orange City.


Carol passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of May 6th, 2024, after contracting double pneumonia. She is survived by her brother, Hank and sister-in-law Karen Clay, by sons Sean and Collin LaPides; by daughter-in-law Dawn Johnston LaPides and son-in-law Neil Ramshaw; and by her beloved grandchildren, Bennett and Lauren LaPides.

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What a tribute to a beautiful, spirited and accomplished woman. She was a pioneer during the the waves of working women in the 1960s and beyond. Bright,, gifted and a leader. She was a loving mother to Sean and Colin, which is when I got to see her the most during their school days in Atlanta. Gracious, witty, welcoming and smart with open arms and an open heart is how I will remember this lovely lady.

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