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John Kirk Clemens, 77;

Led Leadership Institute

John K. Clemens

ONEONTA – John Kirk Clemens, Hartwick College professor emeritus of business administration, passed away peacefully on Monday, Jan. 8, from complications due to Alzheimer’s’ disease.

John began his professorial career at Hartwick College in 1980. In addition to teaching, a passion he held throughout his 34-year career, he established the Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute as a result of receiving a substantial grant from the Kellogg Foundation to fund the creation of a leadership development program and complete a library of 100 leadership cases. These cases were used at Hartwick, at other universities and in corporate training programs nationwide. He wrote in refereed journals, as well as articles for the national business press. He co-authored four books.

Born Dec. 13, 1939, in Kansas City, Mo., John with two brothers and their father, Arnold Wayne Clemens, moved to Glendale, Calif.   Following the death of their mother, Grace Kirk, in 1940. Francise Batterton joined the family in 1943 as stepmother. John graduated high school in Glendale and completed undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Illinois. He served two years in the Navy as a Supply Officer aboard the USS Boyd.

John’s business career began in 1966 and included marketing executive positions with Pillsbury and Lawry’s Foods. Sensing there might be more to life than, as he would say, “fluffy white frosting and seasoned salt,” he answered the call of the sea, sold everything, flew to Europe, and sailed the Mediterranean for 5 years, teaching business courses at the University of Maryland Overseas Division in Germany and Italy when he needed money. Inspired by time at sea, a taste of the classroom experience, and writing the book, “Contingency Seamanship,” John decided that being a college professor might be his real calling.

John is survived by his loving family, including wife, Karyl, brother Wayne (Barbara) of Concord, MA and  children Bob (Shelley) of Columbia, Md., Sandy Scott (Paul Riley) of Northborough, Mass. and Jim (Karen) of Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.; twin brother David of Irvine, Calif., and daughters, Amy (Sergei Andruha) of San Francisco and Ashley Thomas (Rob) of Washington, D.C.; father-in-law Bill Burgher of Venice, Fla.; sister-in-law Judy Lorette (Bob) of Fairfield, Conn. and children Topher of San Francisco and Meghan Plunkett (Bill) of Newtown, Conn.; grand nieces and nephews, Sam, Sean and Katherine Clemens, Heather and Bryan Scott and Charlie and Connor Plunkett.  He was pre-deceased by his parents and step-mother.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, at the First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut Street, Oneonta. Following the service, a reception will be held in the Foreman Gallery in the Anderson Center for the Arts, located at the corner of West Street and Clinton Street on the Hartwick College campus, with parking off the Clinton Street entrance to the campus.

Arrangements are under the direction of Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta. Online condolences may be sent by visiting



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