Obituary: Stephen Thomas Clinton

Stephen Thomas Clinton
January 3, 2023

September 1, 1944 – January 1, 2023

Stephen Thomas Clinton, 78, of Ashland passed away on Jan. 1, 2023. Steve was born Sept. 1, 1944, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Leona Yvonne (Davis) and Robert L. Clinton. When Steve and his sister Linda were teenagers, the family moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and then to El Dorado, Arkansas, where Steve graduated from high school. With savings from paper routes and summer jobs, plus a choir scholarship, Steve attended Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and was a member of the Centenary College Choir which performed throughout the South. Steve’s love of choral music continued his whole life.

He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in Spanish and Latin American Literature at the University of Kansas. Steve and fellow graduate student Judith Mary Myers married on Jan. 26, 1969, in Overland Park, Kansas.

After their son Nathan Thomas was born in 1971, the family moved to Indiana where Steve was Assistant Professor of Spanish at Indiana University in Fort Wayne. A second son, Robert Charles (aka musician Random Rab), was born in 1976. That same year Steve was selected as Director of IU’s Overseas Studies program in Lima, Peru, a one-year appointment. Steve directed the studies of 21 American students at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and organized educational lectures and field trips for them, often with Judy and the boys tagging along.

Back at IU, Steve published numerous academic articles about Latin American and Spanish literature and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Eager to see more of the world, in 1979 he changed careers and joined Lincoln National Life’s International Reinsurance division. His work took him to more than 70 countries including five years in Mexico City heading two bancassurance joint ventures and four years in Shanghai developing a joint venture with Ping An, China’s largest private insurance company.

After retiring from Lincoln, Steve stayed with Ping An another year before he and Judy returned to the States in 2003 to care for Steve’s ailing mother. They settled in Ashland, Oregon, where Steve continued to work as a private consultant for several years.

Steve volunteered for local nonprofits, sang in the choir and served on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church, taught classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Southern Oregon University, and studied poetry with the Contertulianos. He enjoyed swimming laps at the YMCA, fishing, hiking, photography and other hobbies. The physical limitations of a rare sarcoma curtailed his activities in recent years, but Steve continued varied intellectual pursuits and always delighted in the company of a wide circle of friends and family. He is survived by his wife, Judith; sons Nathan and Robert (Michele Rodriguez); grandson Dune; four brothers-in-law (Harry, James, Charles and Timothy Myers) and their families; and his late sister’s children, Rowland and Graham Smith.

The family is grateful for the excellent care Steve received from medical professionals at Providence and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and other caregivers despite difficult circumstances due to the pandemic. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 N. Second St., Ashland. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Trinity Episcopal Church or the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation (nwsarcoma.org).

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