Philip J. Clements, who served on the board of the National Association of Scholars from 2010 to 2014, passed away last week.
Phil served as a partner at Coopers and Lybrand, LLP, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP, then as Executive Vice President of Standard & Poor's Corporate Value Consulting. After his career in the corporate world, he created several new businesses during his retirement, including Cathedral Consulting Group, where he mentored my husband Mark, who is a Managing Director; and Academic Development Consulting, which he co-founded with Peter Wood’s wife Jody, who went on to become its president. Phil cared deeply about the people he worked with, and was passionate about helping them thrive professionally and personally.
He was also a good friend to me and Peter. Once, when our office was in Princeton across the street from the small local airport, he took us both for a quick flight in his seaplane, and while in the air pointed out the sights below.
Phil was devoted to teaching wise habits to the next generation. He was alert to the moral failings of human nature but was patient and took a long-term view of cultural change. At a business ethics conference he led where Peter and I were attending, he took most of his concluding address to share a conversation he’d had with Peter and publicly point out the deceptions deployed by the politically correct establishment in American higher education.
The last time I saw him was this summer, when he and Mark and I went to our favorite pancake spot in Jersey City, the Brownstone Diner, late one evening. Mark and I were volunteering with a program called City Sail, which gives free sailing lessons to inner city teens from Jersey City. A volunteer the group was counting on had dropped out at the last minute, and Phil had stepped in to help. He took six teenagers out on his sailboat for their first lesson of the season; for a few it was their first time on a boat. After the teens went home, we chatted and swapped stories from the evening over pancakes. Phil had given one young man the role of pointing out the times when the boat needed to change course when coming close to shore or another boat – he said, “It’s your job to shout, ‘Captain, we have LAND ahead! We need to tack!’”
The lesson Phil began that night was that we all have responsibility to be on the lookout for obstacles and be ready to adjust. He knew that character comes from practicing prudent decision-making in the midst of uncertainty, and he wanted these kids to get to experience that for themselves.
Phil Clements lived fully, joyfully, and generously. He showed great love to all who knew him. We miss him deeply.