Thank you for your outpouring of support and love for our students and for each other as we mourn the loss of Mr. Tony Clendening. He was a person who always wanted to please and you could count on Tony to be happy, upbeat and ready to go in all weather. There are so many important memories of this teacher and friend, and your calls, notes, and posts tell the story of someone who put his whole heart into everything he did.
Coach Clendening came to our school each week carrying his original dream and excitement for becoming a teacher and coach. At some point, after spending years building a successful landscaping business back at his home, Tony had revisited an old dream of being a coach and educator. It wasn’t easy at around the age of 40 to go back to school, but Tony wasn’t the kind of person who cared about what was easy.
In 2014, when he accepted his first coaching and teaching job, he was as excited as any new educator raring and chomping at the bit to get started! I can tell you, through the ups and downs of school business,Tony never lost an ounce of that enthusiasm and sincerity. It is why his kids looked forward to his class each week, why younger coaches have already described to me how they viewed him as a veteran educator to learn from, and why nothing seemed to ever keep him from working with a student who was interested in putting in some more time.
He did all of this while putting countless hours and incredible effort also into teaching sixth-grade Science. When I’d ask him why he was here all day Sunday and sometimes on Saturday, he’d say that it was to make his class “a class I’d want to be in,” and he’d add, “You gotta make it fun, man!” My heart is broken with yours as I realize that there doesn’t ever seem to be enough time to fully appreciate the lives, the heart, and the purpose of those who are here with us. I appreciate this man and we mourn together.
Mr. Orr let us know also that Tony signed on as an organ donor. As we talk about a man that gave so much and would do anything he ever could to help a student, coworker, or anyone else, it is fitting that we find out that he made this decision to give of himself even after passing.
Please continue to pray for Tony’s daughters and his granddaughter, Ms. Melody. They were the center of Tony’s world and losing him will be very tough to bear.
Funeral services were held on Monday, Dec. 5 at Eufaula. There will also be a memorial for Mr. Clendening at the FHS Gym on Monday, Dec. 11 beginning at 1 p.m.