Donald C. Paup, professor, badminton champ

August 17, 2012

Donald C. Paup, 73, an American badminton champion who became chairman of George Washington University’s exercise science department, died Aug. 7 at his home in Vienna. He had Parkinson’s disease.

The death was confirmed by a daughter, Jennifer Butlin.

With his badminton partner Jim Poole, Dr. Paup was one of the dominant Americans in the sport from the early 1960s to early 1970s. Dr. Paup played on all U.S. Thomas Cup teams from 1963 to 1973 and continued to win national and international titles through the early 1980s.

In 1973, he was inducted into the U.S. Badminton Hall of Fame (now called the Walk of Fame). He refereed for badminton in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, his family said.

Badminton is a national sport in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, but it is played by many fewer athletes in the United States — perhaps a few thousand, Dr. Paup once estimated.

The sport requires enormous physical exertion and eye-hand coordination, with players chasing after shuttlecocks hit at more than 100 mph and games that often run more than two hours. Dr. Paup once told The Washington Post he could not understand how anyone could sweat at tennis.

Donald Clark Paup was born in Los Angeles and finished high school in Long Beach, Calif. He was a 1961 graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles. In 1969, he received a master’s degree in psychology from Tulane University in New Orleans and a doctorate in experimental psychology from Tulane in 1970.

He joined the George Washington University faculty in 1973 and retired in 2006. He was a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Vienna.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 49 years, Helen Sands Paup of Vienna; two daughters, Elizabeth Schlier of Vienna and Jennifer Butlin of Reston; a sister; and four grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein