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Longtime love inspires gift to institute

March 6, 2014 11:00 AM

Mary Sparacello
msparace@tulane.edu

At the Middle American Research Institute

Yvonne Effinger and Marcello Canuto look at a gold-trimmed satin cape of a toreador (bullfighter) from Mexico. (Photo from the Middle American Research Institute)


High school sweethearts Yvonne and Lt. Col. Clinton Effinger III were reunited in mid-life and married almost 40 years. After Clint Effinger’s death last year, Yvonne Effinger ensured his legacy would live on by making a gift to the Middle American Research Institute (MARI) at Tulane University.

Yvonne and Clint drifted apart after high school, and they both married other people. Yvonne became mother to three sons. Clint graduated from Tulane in 1949, then went into the Air Force where he served as a fighter pilot in Korea. He retired from the military in 1970 and worked as an urban planner in Palm Beach County, Fla.

Almost 30 years after their first courtship, Clint and Yvonne saw each other by chance.

“It was just like we had never been separated,” says Yvonne. She and Clint shared a wonderful 38 years together, until he passed away at the age of 88 last February, she says.

Yvonne felt a gift to MARI, which fostered Clint’s love of archaeology while he was at Tulane, would be a perfect way to honor her husband’s memory. Founded in 1924, MARI is housed in the School of Liberal Arts and is one of the nation’s premier centers for research on the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America.

Yvonne’s $30,000 gift paid for enhancements to MARI’s storage area: special shelves to store MARI’s valuable artifacts and filters to protect the precious objects from ultraviolet and infrared light coming through the windows, says MARI director Marcello Canuto.

“With a gift of this size, we immediately decided to expand our storage facilities,” says Canuto. “The upgrades this gift is permitting will enhance our stewardship of these artifact collections.”

Yvonne toured MARI for the first time last November with her son and daughter-in-law. “It was a wonderful trip for us,” she says. “All three of us felt like Clint was with us.”

Mary Sparacello is a communications specialist in the Office of Development Communications. 

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu