July 7, 1939 – November 29, 2017
Born in Lawrence, MA
Resided in Lincoln, NE
John Arthur Clinton
John Arthur Clinton died on November 29, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was 78 years old. Mr. Clinton had Type 2 diabetes, and he died from complications following a severe stroke. This obituary is a celebration of his life, not simply a report of his death. One of his favorite scripture passages was Micah 6:8 –‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” He tried to live like that. He tried.
Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on July 7, 1939, John was the first of three sons to Arthur (Buddy) and Eileen (Hooper) Clinton. He was raised in Methuen, Massachusetts where he attended public schools and had a delivery route with the Lawrence Eagle Tribune newspaper. In the sixth grade, he was recruited by the high school band director to play the baritone horn. In junior high school, he earned a seat in the Methuen High School band. In January 1956, John transferred to Tilton School (Tilton, New Hampshire) where he sang with “The Tiltonaires” (a male a capella group), was manager of the football and track teams, and participated in the Drama Club. During his senior year, he was one of two proctors for the middle school student campus house. He was also one of two students chosen to speak at Tilton graduation ceremonies in 1957.
Following graduation from high school, John enrolled at Drew University (Madison, New Jersey) where he received a BA degree with a major in political science and a minor in religion in 1961. He often said: “At Drew I got a high-quality education and a very special wife” –the love of his life, a fellow student, Mary-Ann Kennerly of Nanticoke, MD. They were married on June 10, 1961 – five days after Drew graduation. The couple met when he offered to assist her up the many stairways and over the obstacles of the college campus. Their marriage gave him a totally new perspective on life because Mary-Ann had polio as a child and was one of the first disabled students to graduate from Drew.
John attended the University of Maryland from 1961 to 1963 where he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant to Dr. Guy Hathorn. He received an MA degree in Government and Politics with a minor in American History plus a Maryland state secondary level teaching certificate.
In 1963, the couple moved to Salisbury, MD where Mr. Clinton was employed by the Wicomico County Board of Education. Their son, Mark Kennerly Clinton, was born in Salisbury (December 1963). Teaching at Wicomico Junior and Senior High Schools, Mr. Clinton was selected in 1965 as one of two teachers to begin a “Problems of Democracy” program at the new James M. Bennett (JMB) High School. At JMB he also was Faculty Advisor to the Student Council. In 1968, John was selected as the “Outstanding Young Educator” in Wicomico County. Up until his death, he maintained contact with the first graduating class at JMB – the Class of 1966. He participated in that class’s start of an annual college scholarship for a JMB graduate and spoke at their 45th class reunion. While living in Salisbury, Mr. Clinton worked during summer breaks on a PhD degree at American University (Washington, DC). He left teaching in Wicomico County in 1969 to complete the required PhD course work. However, he never completed a doctoral dissertation and finished “ABD.”
In 1970, he and his family moved to Radford, Virginia where he was Associate Professor of Political Science at Radford University.
In August 1972, they moved to Bowie, Maryland when Mr. Clinton accepted a position at Montgomery College (Rockville, Maryland) as Associate Professor of Political Science. They moved so their then-8-year-old son (Mark) could study in the Preparatory Division of the Peabody Conservatory. Mark had auditioned for the internationally renowned pianist Leon Fleisher, who arranged for Mark to begin his studies with one of Mr. Fleisher’s top students at the time, Julian Martin.
In the summer of 1976, John began a relationship with the Maryland State Comptroller’s Office. During that summer, he assisted in research and speech writing for Comptroller Louis Goldstein. In 1977, John became a full-time employee of the Comptroller’s Office as Training Officer. His responsibilities grew until he was appointed Director of Personnel and Training. A part of his job was enforcement of EEO policy. This included efforts to make state offices more accessible to persons with disabilities – a goal of Comptroller Goldstein. John retired from state service in January 1994.
By 1980, John had become active in the Maryland Governor’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities. When the Committee had internal management problems, John was asked to become Chairperson. He served for 5 years and represented the state at the signing of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 on the White House Lawn. He did special training at local, state and national conferences. This included ADA Training, Driver Training, and a unique state program of “Employee Education on HIV/AIDS.” When he left the Committee, he received the Committee’s Stanley Stocker Award for Community Service.
In February 1994, Mr. Clinton became the first Director of Human Resources for the City of Bowie, Maryland. For 14 years, he created and supervised an office that became the focus of human resources actions for the city. During his tenure, he continued to support activities for persons with disabilities. The City became a laboratory for regional ADA training. He worked closely with the US Department of Justice when it conducted an ADA Audit on the City as part of the ADA’s 20th anniversary. He provided assistance to the City Manager solving personnel related problems, during periodic union negotiations, providing health benefits, and during the process of selecting the first Police Chief of the Bowie Police Department. He established the City’s first Employee Assistance Plan. In 2008, he retired again.
Even while working in state and local government, John continued teaching political science at area colleges and universities. These included University of Maryland, American University, and Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Community Colleges. From 2008 to 2012, John taught two American Government classes every semester at Anne Arundel Community College. He was respected by his students for encouraging discussion of controversial issues within the constitutional framework of our nation.
In 1982, John was asked to serve on the Board of the Maryland Bible Society. In 30 years as a member, he was President, chaired the MBS 200th Anniversary committee in 2010 and was on the selection committee for the searches of two MBS Executive Directors. He was proud to be a part of bringing women and minority members onto the MBS Board and the presentation of Bibles to the US Naval Academy. Since leaving the MBS in 2012, he has continued spreading the Word as the MBS’s “Nebraska Representative.”
Mr. Clinton was born into a family active in the Methodist Church. His father and maternal grandfather were Lay Leaders of the New Hampshire Conference and his two brothers are ordained United Methodist pastors. John served in many leadership positions at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church (Bowie, Maryland) and Severna Park United Methodist churches. He was Director of The Wesley Foundation at Salisbury University during the 1960’s. As a Lay Speaker, he often was asked to fill-in when area Methodist pastors were on vacation.
John started successful adult Bible study classes in both Bowie and Severna Park. These classes provided an opportunity for many persons to study scriptures, form a close-knit group, and come to a better understanding of God’s word. The Clinton’s annual Christmas parties were widely remembered as very special evenings. Before their moves from Bowie and Millersville, Maryland, he turned over leadership of the respective classes and greatly appreciated the work of those who continued them.
In 1984 (the 200th anniversary of Methodism in the US), John researched, produced, and presented “A Meeting with John Wesley.” Dressed as the founder of Methodism, John took listeners through Wesley’s life and then preached a short “sermon” composed entirely of Wesley’s words. He presented “John Wesley” over 30 times at worship services, church socials, and homecomings in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.
From 2000 to 2011, John and Mary-Ann also presented critically acclaimed performances of A.R. Gurney’s unique stage presentation “Love Letters.” The Clintons performed before audiences in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska. John said: “Presenting this love story with my wife was a unique and special time.”
In 2012, John and Mary-Ann moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to be near their son, Dr. Mark Clinton. They became a part of the wonderful community at The Landing. They were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church. They were strong supporters of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, the Lied Center Piano Circle, and the Friends of the Lied Center. John taught classes for OLLI and at The Landing. He also became one of jazz singer Jackie Allen’s “Torch Singers” — checking off a “bucket list” item three times.
John was an avid baseball fan. In his youth, he was a NY Yankee supporter because his brother Paul was a Boston Red Sox fan. After moving to Maryland, he became a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Many happy memories were made as John and Mark frequented “Birdland” over the years. Mark’s teachers came to expect a note from home saying that Mark had an “important appointment” in Baltimore for scores of Opening Days. They also enjoyed the Orioles’ 1983 World Series win. John also enjoyed taking friends to Camden Yards to his mini-season plan seats in the Upper Deck. He often said: “This is the best place to spend a warm summer evening – baseball with a friend.” His wife said: “Camden Yards is his summer address.” When they moved to Lincoln, a prerequisite was that he could have MLB-TV to watch Orioles’ games.
Mr. Clinton was predeceased by his parents and his mother and father-in law (Dorothy and Harold B. Kennerly, Jr.). He is survived by his wife of 56 years (Mary-Ann Kennerly Clinton); son Dr. Mark Kennerly Clinton, Head of the Piano Area in the UNL Glenn Korff School of Music; one grand-daughter, Solenne Donnadieu Clinton and her mother Anne Donnadieu of Aulnay-sous-bois, France; brothers Paul (wife Doris), Largo, Florida and Philip, Largo Florida and Hangzhou, China; several cousins, nieces and nephews, and sister-in-law Deborah Wells Clinton. He and his wife were the proud owners of three very special miniature schnauzers from 1978 to 2013 — Allegro, Pepper, and Maggie.
Which of John’s many personae do you remember? He was an educator; he taught public schools from junior high to high school; he taught at the college level; he started and taught adult Bible Study classes; he did a variety of training for state and local governments. He was a “people person” and managed human resource offices at state and local governmental levels. Working to help both management and employees was always a goal—even though this was often hard to achieve. He was a believer in Jesus Christ; this was shown through his work in various churches and his activities with the MBS. He was a sports fan but, more importantly, he was a student of baseball. Watching the ballet of umpires on a baseball diamond was almost as important as being present when Cal Ripken set his records. Baseball provided the glue for friendships and family. And, he loved a good joke, especially when he could use it to make a teaching or educational point – even in eulogies.
John is survived by: hundreds of students who learned the constitutional principles of American Government under his tutelage; adults who joined him in Bible study and discussion; fellow church members and pastors who served with him on countless committees; colleagues and co-workers who supported him in his HR work; family members across the United States; friends with whom he shared time at Orioles’ Park; friends and colleagues in the “Disability Community;” neighbors who remember him for reaching out to neighbors’ children after their parents died; and others with whom he enjoyed vacation time and trips to Texas, Paris, France, and evenings of theater and music. His sense of humor, sometimes a bit cutting, was usually enjoyed by friends and students. In retirement, he began to read extensively and had many reviews published in The Landing’s in-house monthly news magazine. He also indulged himself by frequently sending Letters to the Editor of hometown newspapers. Over the years, he maintained contact with many former students and these contacts were greatly treasured by him.
A service celebrating John’s life will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2110 Sheridan Boulevard, Lincoln, Nebraska 68502 on Monday, December 18, 2017 at 11:00. A luncheon reception will follow at the church.
Remembrances in honor of John’s life may be sent to the following organizations: The Maryland Bible Society, 1220 Providence Road, Baltimore, MD 2128; The Memorial Committee at Severna Park United Methodist Church, 713 Benfield Blvd, Severna Park, MD 21146; The Sudanese Ministry at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2110 Sheridan Blvd., Lincoln, NE 68502; The Student Scholarship Fund at The Landing, 3500 Faulkner Drive, Lincoln, NE.
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