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Betty Constable, squash star and coach in 1950s; at 83

BETTY CONSTABLE BETTY CONSTABLE (princeton athletic communications/file)
By Douglas Martin
The New York Times News Service / September 21, 2008
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NEW YORK - Betty Constable, who used a powerful left-handed stroke to become the dominant woman squash player of the 1950s and later posted a formidable record as Princeton's first women's squash coach, died Sept. 9 in Skillman, N.J. A native of Natick, Mass., she was 83.

When the US Squash Hall of Fame inducted Mrs. Constable in 2000, it called her a "central force behind the growth of women's squash in the United States."

Mrs. Constable was part of squash royalty. Her mother, Margaret Howe, who, in the custom of the day, played as Mrs. William Francis Howe, won the national title in 1929, 1932, and 1934.

Mrs. Constable's twin sister, Peggy White, won the national title in 1952 and 1953 and lost three times in the finals.

Mrs. Constable won the national title in 1950, 1956, 1957, 1958, and 1959. She won three veterans' singles titles for women older than 40 and three veterans' doubles titles.

The Howe Cup, a prestigious prize in American women's squash, is named for the family.

After Princeton University admitted women as students, it included squash as one of six varsity sports for women that it introduced in the 1971-72 academic year and appointed Mrs. Constable its coach.

Her teams had a record of 117-15 overall and 73-11 in the Ivy League. Ten of her teams were undefeated.

Elizabeth Howe was born 20 minutes before Peggy in Natick. She graduated from the Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill. She worked as a nurse's aide with the Red Cross during World War II rather than attend college. In 1950, she married Dr. W. Pepper Constable, who had been captain of Princeton's 1935 football team.

Mrs. Constable leaves her daughters Margo of Idledale, Colo., Kacey Nugent of Old Saybrook, Conn., and Liza of Nelson, N.H.; a stepson, William of London; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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