Clement Price remembered as champion of Newark, the arts and poetry

Clem

(MORRISTOWN, NJ) The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation staff mourns the loss of Clement Price, the prominent Newark scholar and beloved Dodge Trustee who died Wednesday.

Price, 69, had served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees since 2004.

“Dodge, Newark and the state have lost a great friend, colleague and public figure,” Dodge President & CEO Chris Daggett said.

Price was a longtime Rutgers professor and founding director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at the university’s Newark campus. The Institute is a “catalyst of civic engagement” focusing on programs that “foster broad public discussion on the arts and culture, urban life and development, diversity and race relations, education, and history at the local, national, and transnational levels,” according to the university.

Price was also the official historian of Newark, where he had lived for nearly five decades. He is survived by his wife Mary Sue Sweeney Price.

At Dodge, Price was a voice for Newark and advocate of place-based programming and grantmaking, said Cynthia Evans, Dodge Foundation Chief Financial Officer.

Wendy Liscow, Dodge’s Education Program Director, said Price played a special role as “a compass, a provocateur, unifier, and champion for the entire Dodge staff.”

“When I first came to New Jersey in the late ’80s, Clement Price was mentioned by virtually everyone as the man you needed to know,” Liscow said. “I don’t remember the exact circumstances of our first meeting, I only remember receiving a huge, long, warm hug — what I’ve come to call a ‘Clem-hug’ — that welcomed me into his circle of friends.

“He helped make all of us at Dodge better people and better stewards of the philanthropic dollars we are privileged to oversee,” she continued. “Personally, I plan on asking myself often: ‘What would Clem do?’ to stay on course.”

Price, who previously served on the Foundation’s arts committee, was chair of the board’s poetry committee, and was instrumental in bringing the Dodge Poetry Festival to Newark.

“No one saw the value of the Dodge Poetry Festival taking place in Newark more clearly than Clem, and no one did more to make the transition to this new location run smoothly,” said Martin Farawell, Dodge Poetry Director. “His dedication to the creation of what he called civic spaces, places that fostered community by bringing people together to share ideas, culture, concerns and stories, was at the center of his tireless work for the Festival as Chair of the Poetry Committee. He understood the move from a bucolic historical site to New Jersey’s largest city was an important statement about poetry’s relevance to contemporary life, and a testimony to the capacity of the arts to contribute to the revitalization of cities and neighborhoods.”

Daggett recalled taking an impromptu walking tour of Newark with Price just two weeks ago at the Dodge Poetry Festival, the third year it has been held in the city. The group crossed the street against the traffic light, he said.

“Instead of honking people were saying ‘Hello Dr. Price,’” Daggett told The Star Ledger. “Clem knew people on the street and he knew people in corporate boardrooms and he was embraced by and endearing to everybody.”

Farawell repeated the sentiment, saying being introduced by Price to anyone he knew meant you were greeted warmly simply because of your connection to him.

“To spend time with him was to receive a first-hand lesson in our capacity for compassion, commitment, intellectual curiosity, hard work and generosity,” Farawell said. “In his company you believed that you, too, could expand these qualities in yourself. He was, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, whose life and times he knew so well, one of our better angels, and he brought out the better angels in the nature of everyone he encountered.”

The staff at the Dodge Foundation continues to send love, thoughts and prayers to the Price family.

We asked Martin Farawell to share a poem to celebrate Price’s spirit. He chose a selection from “I Sing the Body Electric”” by Walt Whitman:

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,

To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round

his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?

I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them,

and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,

All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

 

 

In lieu of flowers or other gifts, Price’s family is asking that any donations be made to Rutgers University’s Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience.

Contributions should be made out to:
The Rutgers Foundation c/o
Irene O’Brien
Vice Chancellor of Development
Rutgers University-Newark
123 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102.

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