On Wednesday, Feb. 7, a memorial service was held in the Swanson Center to honor the life of Piedmont President Emeritus Dr. W. Ray Cleere. Nearly 100 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered for the “celebration of life,” officiated by Reverend Tim Garvin-Leighton, who has performed many such services for people whom he did not know personally.

“I have heard stories and know of his legacy,” Garvin-Leighton said. “I hope that the service reflects and honors not only Dr. Cleere’s life but also what he meant to this community and this campus.”

Garvin-Leighton then read passages from the book of Matthew and the poem Up! Education by Sylvia Chidi before handing over the floor to President James Mellichamp.

“I have a very vivid memory of Dr. Cleere’s first public appearance in the chapel,” Mellichamp said. “I remember feeling a great sense of relief that finally, somebody had arrived with a vast amount of experience in education and the insight to determine what we needed to do to advance this college forward.”

Mellichamp then went on to detail the ways Piedmont grew under Dr. Cleere’s leadership, and how the student body had grown to 2834 by the time Cleere left in 2011.

“I remember telling folks that I envied the person who succeeded Ray because all they would need to do would be to keep the machine oiled and pay the electric bills,” Mellichamp said. “That’s a vast oversimplification, but I approach every day with the knowledge that ours is an awesome responsibility, to ensure that the legacy provided this college is nourished and expanded.”

Watch the full memorial service here:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaPdcdI9BBk[/embedyt]