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Former Mayor John Clyde Eulogized As Fearless And Caring Man

Mourners gathered at St. Matthias Catholic Church Jan. 29 to say goodbye to former Mayor John Clyde.


More than 100 mourners gathered at St. Matthias Catholic Church Jan. 29 to say goodbye to former township Mayor John Clyde.

Clyde, 63, died Jan. 24 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

A two-time heart transplant survivor, Clyde battled a variety of health issues. Eulogists celebrated what they called his fearlessness in dealing with those issues.

In addition to his time as mayor, Clyde served on the Township Council for nearly 20 years. He was also a longtime member of the township Environmental Commission – winning that committee’s “Environmental Stewardship” award last year – and served on the Library Board of Trustees.

A Democrat, Clyde was known for working with members of both parties.

“His death is not a failure,” Clyde’s daughter, BethAnn Mayer, told the mourners. “He did not lose any battles. His life really is a story of defeating the odds. The bottom line is, death is inevitable, and this time God decided my Dad’s best, his fearlessness, his joy, his singing voice, were simply needed somewhere else.”

“My father’s life was a full one; he summited mountains, watched three children grow, coached our soccer teams and never missed a single one of my games, home or away,” she said. “He raised three dogs … was the mayor of our town and spent nearly two decades on the town council.”

“He made many friends who lit up his world, traveled the globe to places like Columbia, Paris and Prince Edward Island,” she said. “He did more in 63 years than many of us could do in a lifetime, and he did it was such love, passion and joy.”

“He believed in miracles and magic, rainbows and sunshine,” Mayer said.

Mayer, who was married in April of 2018, said that when she and Clyde were doing the father-daughter dance, Clyde told her that he had been dreaming of that moment since the 1990s, when he had his first heart transplant.

Mayer also took time out to thank her father’s heart donors.

“I want to take an important moment to thank the two individuals who passed away and gave my father his second and third chance at life,” she said. “Let us remember them today, for without them, we never would have had my father these 63 magnificent years. I had my father at my wedding, my brother and I had birthdays and holidays we never would have had with him without their gift of life.”

“We did not know you, we never met you, but you and your families will forever hold a special place in our family and in our hearts,” she said.

Clyde’s son, Michael, said his father “lived a rich, full life, surrounded by love.”

“My father was an uncommonly kind man,” he said. “Giving was at the core of everything he did.”

“As the mayor of Franklin, he gave a town leadership in trying times, as a member of an organization such as the Environmental Commission or the library board, he gave his time and energy to make sure people had places to gather, to learn an experience all the wonderful things this world has to offer,” he said.

“As a father, he gave all his love and so much more,” Clyde said. “He was always there when we needed him, always ready to help. He gave us the tools we need … his words were a comfort in times of darkness.”

Also eulogizing Clyde were his friends, Pat Dillon and Philip Beachem.

“What can you say about a man who was so caring and loving, that he literally wore out three hearts?” Dillon said. “I cannot tell you about how wonderful a man John Clyde was, or what he meant to me as a friend, in five minutes. It just is not possible, and I will not try.”

Dillon said that he first met Clyde in 2001, during a Township Council meeting about proposed develpoment of Catalpa Farms.

“John met with us after that meeting and talked with us at length about his thoughts for the proposed development and patiently answered all of our questions,” he said. “I walked away from that session and thought to myself, our mayor is a guy who is genuinely concerned about his community.”

“I had a sense of pride about our town and confidence that Mayor Clyde had out best interests at heart,” he said. “This was true about John for as long as I knew him; he had a deep love for our town, our state, our country, but most importantly, he had a deep love for its individual citizens.”

Dillon said he and Clyde became close friends through their participation in church groups and through volunteering for Boy Scout Troop 113.

Dillon said he spoke to Clyde in the days before his death, during which Clyde “talked about how much he loved his children.”

“He felt he lived a rich and full life,” Dillon said. “He was proud of the things he accomplished. He was tired and weary of the pain, but John was at peace with his situation, he was prepared to meet his Lord, he was ready to go home.”

“There was one thing I used to say to him all the time, and he admitted to me that those words meant the world to him,” Dillon said. “I used to say to him all the time, you’re a good man, Mr. Clyde. You’re a good man, Mr. Clyde.”

Beachem told the mourners that he’d first met Clyde in 1978 when, as a graduate student at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, Clyde applied for an internship with a state Assemblyman.

“It was also during that time that I learned several things about John,” Beachem said. “He was honest to a fault, and his view of government service was rooted in the concept of helping people, not for personal enhancement. Of course I hired john, and over the next 41 years, we became close friends and colleagues.”

“He never strayed from his view of what government service was about, and he never stopped helping people whenever it was necessary,” he said. “He never lost his penchant for honesty and frankness, and he had little patience for those who put personal gain above service to the public.”

“John faced it all, yet I never once heard him complain, never once heard him say, why me, never once heard him feel sorry for himself,” Beachem said. “He was always seeing the good in a not-so-good situation.”

“So I think we must look at this solemn occasion as John would have looked at it,” he said. “We can do good things in our lives by emulating the character of our good friend. Be kind, be humble, be selfless and be blessed for what we have.”

Fr. Nicholas Gengaro, the homilist for Clyde’s funeral, said he and Clyde first met more than 28 years ago when Gengaro first moved to the township.

“He and I have had countless conversations over the years,” Fr. Gengaro said. “No matter the topic, or the length or brevity of the encounter, I always came away feeling that I had just been with an exceptional human being.”

“Intellect, insight, compassion, kindness, eloquence, all these and more John possessed richly,” he said. “But the word I most associate with him is humility.”

“Humility is to walk in the truth,” Fr. Gengaro said. “The humble man is exactly who he is. No more, but no less. No pretense, but no false modesty, either. John did not hesitate to share who he was with me, but always with a quiet confidence that left me better off.”

“His quiet example induced others to do the same,” he said. “I’m here to say that John did precisely that in my life. His mere presence in a room reminded me to focus less on what was going wrong and more on what was all right.”

“John was poor in spirit, that is to say, humble,” he said. “He was compassionate, mourning in solidarity with those who mourned. Meek, that is to say, unpretentious, not coercing, but persuading. Passionate for justice, merciful toward all. Honest and sincere, a genuine peace maker.”

Clyde’s casket passed through a church honor guard on its way out of the church after the service.

 

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