A Fond Farewell to a Long-time Employee

David LePere and Clarence Robinson

David LePere and Clarence Robinson

At Cherokee Creek, our mentors come in all sizes, shapes, ages and genders! We recently said farewell to one of our senior mentors, Clarence Robinson, who dedicated 8 years to our boys as a night shift counselor at Cherokee Creek Boys School. Last week we held a retirement party for him and it was a grand event! Our students made a bright yellow 16 foot long poster. The kitchen served up a fancy lunch and added desert, which is rare on our “limited sugar” campus.

We gathered all our students and staff and Clarence’s wife to host an Honorable Closure ceremony for Clarence. This event honors community members for their contributions, the relationships they built over time, the stories that were shared, the knowledge that was created, the healing that has taken place and the work that was accomplished. It is a time for everyone to say goodbye and for the honoree to leave with dignity, respect, a sense of their own value, and their value to the community.

Everyone was invited to share a favorite memory and wish Clarence well in his retirement. And, Clarence told a few stories about his times here. The most famous story…now a legendary part of our school history…was about the time he walked around the corner of a bunkhouse in the middle of the night and came to nose-to-nose with a black bear! The bear scrambled up the hillside, leaving claw marks as evidence. We’re not sure who was more alarmed, the bear or Clarence…although he claims to have lost a few years of growth! While we never saw the bear again, Clarence proved his dedication to our school by coming back to work the next night.

Clarence also gave the boys some advice. In a straight-shooting grandfatherly way he gave us a few “real and true” nuggets of gold…

“When I was a kid, any black kids were thought of as bad kids. What I have learned is that we are all the same, it doesn’t matter if you are white, black or purple.” Clarence grew up in rural South Carolina in the 50’s.

“You will always have a boss, someone who tells you what to do. Learn to respect the authority that your bosses have.”…he playfully winked at his wife on this one…

“Your parents love you. I hear you sometimes moan and complain that they won’t let you do this activity or buy you these shoes, or whatever. But I’ve got to tell you, your parents love you. In fact, they tell you ‘NO’ because they love you. They want you to learn to work for your things and be responsible for yourself.”…couldn’t have said it better myself!

Congratulations Clarence! Thank you from all the members of the Cherokee Creek community. Your hard work and wisdom have helped many students to “…discover what is real and true about themselves and the world around them.”

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (6)

6 Responses to “A Fond Farewell to a Long-time Employee”

  1. Nate says:

    Clarence!!! Oh man. I remember him back in 2003 up top when we slept. Great guy!

  2. Kristin Dalton says:

    Thanks so much for loving our boys! Enjoy your retirement!

  3. susie says:

    Congrats to Clarence – I remember him well. Sweet advice from a friend to the boys of Cherokee Creek.

  4. Davis Eddy says:

    It’s sad to hear that your gone. Thanks for being a great leader and a friend Clarence. Farewell and best of wishes.

  5. scott pleasants says:

    i remember you well congrats

  6. Trent says:

    Oh my god Clarence! I remember all the laughs in the bunkhouse in 2008-9. I still remember one of my favorite quotes from him, “How you gonna wake up dead in the bed if you’re already dead?”

    Lol, if you weren’t a part of the White Oaks back then, you probably won’t get the reference, but it was a very funny night haha

    I miss you Clarence!

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