Remembering Amy Clague

In Memory

Amy Clague and family

Long ago, a woman named Amy met and fell in love with a man named Bob. In the natural course of their romance, the time came in which Bob asked for Amy’s hand in marriage. She would agree, for she loved him too, but she had one condition.

I will marry you, Amy told her suitor, only if you promise to leave part of your collection to Phoenix Art Museum.

Fortunately, Robert Hale Clague agreed, and he and Amy were wed in 1982. Some fairy tales really do have happy endings.

There is perhaps no story that better sums up Amy Clague, the Museum’s past director of development and a longtime Trustee of Phoenix Art Museum, who passed away on June 17, 2020. Amy’s long life was one marked by a tremendous fire and passion to fight for the people, the causes, and the organizations that had captured her heart and loyalty, and each of us at Phoenix Art Museum, from our staff to our Board of Trustees, consider ourselves exceptionally lucky to be counted among the institutions about which Amy cared most, as she dedicated much of her life to supporting the Museum’s mission of bringing art to all people.

Amy was born in 1932 in El Paso, Texas. A sixth generation Texan, Amy left her sister, Marge, and her parents, Ralph and Pauline Sanders, behind to travel East, where she began her university studies at Smith College in Massachusetts. While at Smith, Amy devoted herself to teaching English to native Spanish speakers who were looking to expand the opportunities available to themselves and their families. It was just one of many times throughout Amy’s life that she would dedicate herself to improving the lives of those around her, especially for individuals who were born without the privileges that she had enjoyed as a young woman.

Throughout her life, while raising her four daughters—Colleen, Paula, Amy, and Anne—Amy continued to devote herself to the causes that mattered most to her. She was politically active and also served as the president of Planned Parenthood Arizona and the Phoenix chapter of the Smith alumnae association. Along with the Museum, she dedicated herself to nonprofit organizations that were close to her heart, serving as a volunteer leader for All Saints Episcopal Day School, the University Club, Desert Botanical Garden, Northern Trust Literary Society, and Asian Arts Council. She also served on the vestry at All Saints Episcopal Church and Christ Church of Ascension. A woman of faith, Amy believed that the purpose of her life was to make each day better and brighter for everyone around her, a belief instilled in her by her mother’s wise words, “Remember who you are and what you represent.”

Amy’s selfless devotion to her community was without peer. Through her decades-long service to Phoenix Art Museum, she has left an indelible mark on each of us. Because of her tenacity, even in the midst of a marriage proposal, she was responsible for extraordinary additions to the Museum’s collection. It is impossible to put into words what Amy meant to Phoenix Art Museum, and impossible to catalogue all that her love and loyalty have made possible for our visitors, our Members, our staff, our Trustees, our volunteers, and—most of all—our community.

Photos courtesy of the Clague family.

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