Badminton Legend Don Paup Will Be Remembered

Aug. 21, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Don Paup on the court with Jim Poole



                                                                    Don receiving the Ken Davidson Sportsmanship Award                                                      

                   Dr. Donald C. Paup 

It is with great sadness that we report that Dr. Donald Clark Paup passed away on August 7, 2012 at his home in Vienna, VA, due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. Don is justly famous in the badminton world as one of the top players this country has ever produced, in addition to his many years as a badminton coach and a professional in exercise science.  

As a player, Don’s badminton achievements spanned from the late 1960s through 2002. He won 18 national titles - nine U.S. National Men’s Doubles and one U.S. National Mixed Doubles championships, as well as eight Senior National Doubles Championships.  He also won the Mexican and South African Open Men’s Doubles championships.  Internationally, he played on, captained, or coached the U.S. Thomas Cup Teams from 1964 to 1979, U.S. Devlin Cup Teams, and the U.S. Touring Team to South Africa. Don was inducted into the Badminton Hall of Fame in 1973, and years later, the Walk of Fame; received the Ken Davidson Sportsmanship Award in 1976; and served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (1968-1997). 

Don also had an extensive coaching career, including serving as coach of the U.S. International Teams from 1971 to 1974, coach at the Olympic Festival, coach of The George Washington University (GWU) women’s badminton team, and coach at many badminton camps – including the Connecticut Badminton Camp (1974-1983) in Farmington, CT, and the GWU Badminton Camp (1988-1999) that was a favorite of players from throughout the United States. Don also authored two badminton skills books and teaching films. 

On the badminton administrative side, Don was a Director of the U.S. Badminton Association (the predecessor of USA Badminton) from 1976 to 1982, and served as Chairman of several USBA committees. He served on the NASPE and AIAW Intercollegiate Badminton Sports Committees, was Tournament Director for two AIAW National Championships, and served as a badminton clinician for most AAPHERD National Conventions. He served as Service Judge for the Thomas Cup (1967), Umpire for the World Games (1981), and Line Judge for the Olympic Games (1996) in Atlanta, GA. 

Don also had a distinguished career professionally. After earning his BA at Occidental College and MS and PhD at Tulane University, Don did two Postdoctoral Fellowships, and then came to The George Washington University in 1973 as Director of the Exercise Center of the National Exercise and Heart Disease Project, and as an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. In 1978 he became Professor of Human Kinetics and Leisure Studies in the School of Education and Human Development, and in 1990 he became Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Tourism Studies, and he served as Director of the Exercise Science Programs for many years. He also acted as Director for many fitness, exercise science and human performance programs, and has authored over 50 publications in the field of exercise and sport science.  In 2006, after 33 years of dedicated service, Don retired from GWU as Professor Emeritus of Exercise Science. 

Those of us who played alongside Don or benefited from his coaching and mentoring – and we are many – will remember Don not only as a brilliant player, but as the best badminton strategist around. Sitting next to him during a match was simply fascinating – he invariably pointed out some subtle tactic or shortcoming that was making the difference in the competition unfolding before you, which neither the players nor other observers perceived. It was not hard to understand why he and his long-time partner Jim Poole dominated U.S. men’s doubles for so many years. 

In the Northeast, he is most remembered in the badminton community by the many players and students who he coached, ranging from the very top echelon of U.S. players, to beginners.  He was always ready to help and play with new and learning players, and encouraged and coached many of them to become accomplished badminton athletes.  Don’s support for “everything badminton” was legendary as well, not only at GWU, but also in the entire badminton community, where he organized and supported countless activities and events over his career. Don was truly one of the great leaders in the U.S. badminton world, and a friend and mentor to generations of players and coaches. He will be sorely missed on and off the court. 

A memorial service celebrating Don’s life will be held on Saturday, October 20, 2012, at 2:00 p.m., at Emmanuel Lutheran Church located at 2589 Chain Bridge Road in Vienna, VA.  Don is survived by his wife of 49 years, Helen Sands Paup, two daughters, Elizabeth Schlier and husband Carl, and Jennifer Butlin and husband Steve, as well as four grandchildren.

To honor Don, the Northeast Badminton Association has established a fund to support the education, development, and certification of coaches in the Northeast region, the Donald C. Paup Coaching Fund.  More information about the fund and how to make a memorial contribution is available on the Northeast Badminton Association website at  Online condolences may be shared with the family at