Belmar Gunderson Obituary, Death – Belmar Gunderson, who served as the pioneering director of the women’s athletics program at the University of Minnesota, has gone away. Her age was 88.
Gunderson served as the director of women’s sports at the university from 1975 to 1976, during which time she was instrumental in establishing a solid foundation for future generations of student-athletes. She had previously served as the director of both extramural and intramural sports at the university, as well as having taught in the department of physical education and coached a variety of sports before accepting an appointment to head the newly established women’s department. She was the driving force behind the establishment of the Patty Berg Scholarship Fund, which awards athletic scholarships to female students, and she was also instrumental in lobbying the state government, which resulted in an annual department budget of $330,000.
In the early 1950s, Gunderson earned her bachelor’s degree in tennis from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she also excelled as an athlete. She was a standout on the court. She started her academic career at Penn State, where she acquired her master’s degree in 1962, and continued her education at Texas Women’s University, where she was awarded her doctorate in 1971. During the 1950s and 1960s, she participated as an amateur tennis player in a number of the world’s most prestigious tennis competitions, such as Wimbledon and the U.S. Lawn Tennis National Championships.
She continued to participate well in USTA and ITF World doubles events 40 and 50 years after her undergraduate years, during which time she achieved a national ranking as high as No. 11 in singles and No. 2 in doubles. Between the years 1955 and 1965, Gunderson maintained a high national ranking in both the women’s singles and doubles categories. During her time as a player and later as a coach, Gunderson contributed more than half of her life to advancing women’s athletics.
She was a charter member of the UNC-Greensboro Athletics Hall of Fame in the year 2000 and was honored with induction into the M Club Hall of Fame in Minnesota in the year 2003. Gunderson was presented with the United States Tennis Association’s Service Bowl Award in 2011. This honor is presented on an annual basis to a female tennis player who is deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the sportsmanship, fellowship, and service of the game of tennis.