In memoriam: Gordon Clem (1931-2013)

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We are deeply saddened to announce that Gordon Clem, former Headmaster of Saint Thomas Choir School, died on Sunday, September 29, after a lengthy illness.

Gordon H. Clem (1931-2013) joined the Choir School faculty in 1955 as an athletic coach and then as a teacher in math and science. In 1963 he became Senior Master and assistant to the Headmaster. In 1967 he was appointed Headmaster by Dr. Morris (X Rector from 1954 to 1972), who recruited Mr. Clem to the Choir School in the first instance. Gordon was distinguished as a math teacher, and as Headmaster he brought good order, academic excellence, efficient administration, and, it is right to say, renown, to Saint Thomas Choir School. In 1985, together with Father John Andrew (XI Rector 1972-1996), the Wardens and Vestry, and architect Harold Buttrick, Mr. Clem played a key role in planning and executing the move of the Choir School from West 55th Street to its present location to a new building designed and built for the purpose on West 58th Street; the move was accomplished in 1987. The New building was named “Gordon Clem House”; Mr. Clem’s name is carved on the cornerstone.

Gordon Clem retired as Headmaster in 1995. He was happy to respond to many requests for information and counsel from both Fr. Mead (XII Rector 1996-present) and Headmaster Fr. Charles Wallace. Gordon returned for the first time to the Choir School in 2006, responding to an invitation by the Rector and Headmaster to celebrate his 75th birthday. Although Mr. Clem was unable to come to New York for his 80th birthday for reasons of health, Fr. Wallace took a group of choristers to Lenox, Massachusetts, Gordon’s home, to sing for him. Fr. Wallace was in touch with Mr. Clem a few weeks before his death, the result of a long illness. On Sunday, October 13 at 4pm, we will remember Gordon Clem during Choral Evensong. We had long planned to have our annual ceremony for the Admission of Choristers during Choral Evensong on October 13. Those plans have not changed. The admission of new choristers serves a fitting and joyful memorial for a departed headmaster. The choir will sing works of Noble and Candlyn. Fr Charles Wallace, headmaster, will officiate and Fr Andrew Mead, rector, will preach. All are invited to the service, which will also be webcast in its entirety.