Eight Bells: Judy Clagett McLennan

Published on November 17th, 2023

Judy Clagett McLennan

Juliette Clagett McLennan (January 7, 1946 – November 15, 2023), the co-founder and president of the non-profit organization Clagett Sailing, has died in Portsmouth, RI.

Judy had retired from the U.S. Government where she served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women under President George H. W. Bush.

She had served on the Board and Executive Committee of the Naval War College Foundation, the Board of the Newport Hospital Foundation, and the Committee for Sailors with Disabilities at US Sailing.

“My mother was an avid sailor, and her positive impact on the sport, especially for people living with disabilities, will be felt for decades to come,” says Stephanie McLennan.

In 2003, Judy and her daughter Stephanie founded Clagett Sailing in memory of her father, C. Thomas “Tom” Clagett Jr. The organization provides opportunities for sailors with disabilities to learn, race, win, and to experience Paralympic-level sailing competition.

Tom Clagett (1916-2001) was a U.S. Navy World War II veteran who learned to sail on Chesapeake Bay. As a youngster, he suffered temporary paralysis as the result of a bout of meningitis; an experience that left him with a deep respect for the accomplishments of people with disabilities.

Clagett Sailing’s stated mission is “to assist sailors in realizing their potential on the water by providing them both the knowledge and tools to improve their skills and the opportunity to use these skills in competition.” The organization has adopted Tom Clagett’s motto of “Reach for Success,” which resonates with every Clagett sailor.

Under Judy’s leadership, the first few annual clinics and regattas grew into a widely respected sailing organization, including a second yearly match racing event in Oyster Bay, NY. Also, US Sailing designated the Clagett Sailing clinic and regatta as a sanctioned event to determine national championships.

In 2022, Clagett Sailing marked the 20th Anniversary of the Clagett Newport. Over the past two decades, sailors who train at the Clagett Sailing clinic and regattas have earned medals at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympic Games.

“The legacy that my mother leaves is one of camaraderie and inclusion that will live on in the work Clagett Sailing will continue to accomplish in her memory,” says Stephanie.

Judy was a member of New York Yacht Club, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Newport Yacht Club, and the Tred Avon Yacht Club.

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