Honoring George Clarkson
Last April many IC alumni and students joined together to pay tribute to George Clarkson for his ministry as the first Protestant chaplain of Ithaca College. Chaplain during my four years there, George was beloved for his warm friendship, hospitality, and pastoral care.
It was fitting that the George Clarkson Lecture Series, coordinated by retired German professor Willard Daetsch, was established in his honor, and it was also fitting that the series’ first speaker was Jim Kelsey ’74, now the Episcopal bishop of Northern Michigan, whose life and ministry were strongly influenced by George. As a student, Jim was president of the United Christian Fellowship. He went on to attend the General Theological Seminary in New York and after his ordination he served in Vermont and Oklahoma for some years before moving to Michigan.
Among those paying tribute were Professor Daetsch and his wife, former IC library staff member Dorothy Daetsch; Marty Nott ’74; Ted Jones, retired Episcopal Diocese of Maryland priest, former curate at St. John’s (Ithaca), and former IC Episcopal chaplain; IC history professor Bill Brown (one of only two of my former professors that I know of who still teach at IC); my classmate Holly Tavelli, longtime IC associate director of admissions; and Chris Knauer ’76, M.S. ’91, an old prep school friend of mine and now the IC registrar.
During the wonderful tribute to George Clarkson I was pleased to see his wife, Elizabeth, as well as many IC friends including my old roommate from sophomore year, Cal Wood ’71, whom I had last seen in 2003 when we were in Ithaca for our 30th reunion. (I’d like to point out that we have both aged rather gracefully, except perhaps for the added inches around our middles.)
Jim Kelsey’s talk, “Enlarge the Site of your Tent,” focused on the college experience as a time of expansion and growth in one’s intellectual and spiritual life, and the connection between faith and daily life.
Altogether, it was a wonderful weekend. Now, a year later, I’m still processing and giving thanks for this wonderful and spirit-filled reunion of teachers and students, of colleagues and friends.
Rev. A. Bruce Smith, an Episcopalian minister, is married to Rev. Susan W. Smith, a Presbyterian minister. They live and work in Ohio.