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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 01/15/2011

Victim cherished friends, young and old

By Dan Morse

James Clemons, the 81-year-old religious scholar who was killed by a commuter train Friday morning, had a way of making people feel better after they spoke with him, as reported here.

He cherished his friends -- young and old. Here is more information we learned yesterday about how he treated them.

When Clemons turned 81, on Oct. 17, he called more than a dozen people to tell them how lucky he was they were in his life. To him that was an ideal gift, said his daughter, Margaret Clemons. Her dad still kept up with people he grew up with in Arkansas.

Clemons was killed while on his way to visit Margaret, herself a minister at Severn United Methodist Church in Severn. He served as youth director at her church until last year.

He enjoyed hand-writing letters of encouragement to the young people. On Jan. 2, he penned one to Isaac Snyder, an 11th grader at Old Mill High School, in Millersville. The teenager is a budding actor, having performed in school productions and a recent independent movie.

"Dear Isaac," Clemons wrote under Wesley Theological Seminary letterhead. "Herewith some thoughts I have wanted to share with you over lunch sometime, but I realize that Christmas holidays offer special times among young friends."

"Your continued successes and opportunities in theater bring much pleasure to your older friends. You have been gifted with tremendous talent, and are committed to developing it."

Clemons offered advice on seeking a college and scholarships. He felt the 17-year-old should consider selecting an agent.

"At some point, sooner rather than later, you will want to choose a good reliable agent, one with successful, satisfied clients. Be sure you aren't 'signing your life away,' which means having an attorney read the contract first. Forgive my dumping on you, my friend, but I hope this information will be helpful. I look forward to your progress, and wishing you the very best, Jim."

Snyder cried Friday when discussing the letter and what Clemons's friendship and counsel had meant to him.

"He was very, very wise," Snyder said. "He was the best."

By Dan Morse  | January 15, 2011; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse, Montgomery  
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Next: Man found in frozen pond identified


Moving story and a tragic end for what seems to be a wonderful man. That said, by all reports this was a tragic accident. Why are we besmirching his name by listing this in the "crime" section??

Posted by: CCrew | January 15, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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