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Remembering Mr. Clements

Original post made on Feb 1, 2018

There was the time before, and then there was the time after that day. Lee Clements would thereafter refer to it only as "the day they broke my head."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 1, 2018, 11:07 AM

Comments (14)

11 people like this
Posted by Shannon Griscom
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm

I taught high school English with Lee Clements at Menlo-Atherton High School until he left teaching because of the beating in 1985.I would still see him occasionally around Palo Alto. Everything in your obituary sounds accurate to me, and I honor him not only for his teaching, but for his honesty and openness about his life. He paid a high price, but what an early role model he was. Thank you, Lee.

6 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 1, 2018 at 5:05 pm

I graduated in 1985 and worked on several plays as a stage hand while at MA. Mr. Clements was very nice and fun to work with. He didn't even get mad when I would play practical jokes on the actors during the dress rehersal.

7 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm

My favorite teacher at MA by a mile. He was inspiring, funny, gentle and genuine. His english class was one I always looked forward to. Godspeed and RIP.

9 people like this
Posted by Gretchen
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:20 am

M-A theatrical productions standout as some of my fondest high school memories. Mr Clements classroom and the Jbuilding were “safe places” before there was a term for it. As a teenager I truly was unaware that fellow classmates, much less staff, were gay. Maybe I was naive, but I like to think that teachers like Lee Clements fostered an atmosphere of acceptance and nurtured creative self expression in a safe environmen tallowing young people opportunity to developer as individuals. I remember those long rehearsals before a show would go up- sometimes there until 11 pm- and the magic of opening night - and the thrill of breaking the set and the celebration at the cast party when it was all done... and the excitement when the tryouts for the next production were announced. Here’s wishing Mr Clements an eternity of peace, acceptance and access to the best seats in the house !

2 people like this
Posted by Steve_J
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2018 at 8:23 am

rest in peace Mr. Clements. You were a true professional at all times.

5 people like this
Posted by Curielle
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 5, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Mr. Clements was demanding, exacting, larger than life and expected the best out of his students and performers. I will never forget being late to a rehearsal and having to sit outside of J Building on the concrete until rehearsal was over. It only happened once. I use the skills he taught me every single time I speak publicly. He treated all of us as adults from the very first interaction, and that in turn caused us to rise to the occasion. He was a great teacher. The ripple effects of his life go far and wide. Thank you Mr. C. We are grateful for your presence in our lives. Class of '78

2 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2018 at 10:32 pm

I had Mr Clements for freshman English and will never forget him.
Things I remember about him are: "TV turns your brain into oatmeal", "There is no such word as nother", "Students entering and exiting the stage through the center of the curtain will be severely beaten; survivors will be charged grade points." When he took us to see a play at ACT in SF, some of us the next day were commenting on seeing "crazy" people on the city streets, and he reminded us that they are not on stage and we did not buy a ticket to see them perform; they are that way by nature.
For the first half of the year, I thought his first name was Ethelephen, because he always answered the phone "Ethelephen Clements." I later discovered he was saying the room number "F-11".

3 people like this
Posted by Roca Thompson Welch
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:18 am

My father, Phil Thompson, also an English teacher at MA, worked with Mr. Clements for many years as the set designer for all of those productions. This was my father's creative outlet for a very long time and it was exhausting work. But some of my greatest childhood memories are from seeing those productions. Our family spent a summer in Eugene, OR so dad could take more set design classes. It takes dedication and love to put that kind of effort into high school productions. We are all grateful.

2 people like this
Posted by Ricky
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:30 pm

Under Mr. C’s direction I took part in “A Midsummers Nights Dream”, “Bus Stop”, and “The Boyfriend”. Unforgettable experiences that will stay with me forever. Few teachers leave a lasting impression on students. Mr. C was definitely one of them.

2 people like this
Posted by kip
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 7, 2018 at 4:52 am

Took english classes from him and did theater from 1968 to 1970 when i graduated MA. Kiss me Kate was one of our plays and i have fond memories of doing that. I sang,danced and played about 4 characters as well as a dead body. That was the pinacle of my theatrical career. He was one of the few teachers that i remember from HS and would actually have liked to see again. Sorry to hear of his passing.

2 people like this
Posted by Shelley
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 7, 2018 at 6:47 am

I am so sorry to hear this news. I was just sharing with my husband and 16 year old son how Mr. Clements changed my life as a struggling freshman. I will always be grateful for his teaching but more importantly how he cared for his students and their emotional well being. He created a safe place for us to share our struggles and he was vulnerable, honest and wise in his response. I am 100% positive my life would have had a different and harder path without his influence. He was great man. RIP Mr. Clements.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Boyd
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 8, 2018 at 11:47 am

Mr. Clements ( could not say "Lee")was a wonderful man. I was in two of his productions, I was "File" in "110 in the Shade" with Liz, Carolyn, Stan, Dency, and Karin 1968-1969. During the Summer we did "Midsummer Nights Dream". When I did "The Roar of the Greasepaint" starring and directed by Kenny Ortega he told me: "tell your director he can't act and direct at the same time!" I gave that advise to a choreographer two days ago.(smile.)I fondly remember him even when he made us restart the play from the start if we messed up. Thank you Lee.

2 people like this
Posted by Wendy Sterne Brown
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 8, 2018 at 8:48 pm

1964-1968. He was a really great teacher/director/friend. I was in High Spirits, The Boy Friend, Paint Your Wagon. So sorry to hear the tragedy in his later life. We all loved him.

Like this comment
Posted by Suzan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2018 at 9:09 pm

I was deeply saddened to see this article, but I am so thankful you shared it.
Mr. Clements asked me to be the "Student Director" of The Pajama Game; I had no idea what that was, but I learned. What an amazing experience. Reading the other comments I realize, now, the deep and positive influence he had on me during those years.

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