Ms. Clepper Retires!

Ms. Marie Clepper, a fixture in the Upper School for generations and beloved by all, has officially retired from Brookstone School. After 48 years of dedicated service, the ever youthful 88-year old mother and grandmother finally decided, “It’s time.”

Ms. Clepper started her journey here at Brookstone in 1973 at the age of 40. At the time, she had three school-aged children and was looking for work that would align with their schedules so she took a position as a fourth-grade teacher’s aid. She served the school in several capacities before becoming the Upper School administrative assistant in the early 1980’s, a role she’s held ever since. Truly the face of the Upper School, she oversaw endless student check-ins, check-outs and item drop-offs over the years and was a beloved member of the Brookstone family.

As Upper School administrative assistant, it was Ms. Clepper’s job to oversee day-to-day functions of the school, manage schedules, produce report cards and mid-term reports, solve problems, and greet visitors, among many other duties as assigned.

Lisa Howard Morris, a Brookstone graduate and family friend, shared, “I have so many memories of Ms. Clepper going all the way back to her calm but firm voice, her kindness and her dependability. She is such a constant in the lives of so many of us, and that is more and more rare as time goes on.”

Windle McKenzie, who worked with Ms. Clepper as Upper School Principal for more than a decade said, “Marie is one of the most capable people I’ve ever been around. You couldn’t get any more loyal than Marie. She wanted things to be right. She loved the school and the people there and you could see it in her work.”

Colleague and long time Upper School teacher, Dee Dee Branham agrees. “Marie was so well respected by everyone. She handled everything with grace, determination, and dignity.”

Another colleague and friend, former teacher Nan Pate said, “Marie is the kind of person you would want to be the role model for your child or grandchild. You knew you could always get a straight answer from her, in a supporting way. Wonderfully gracious, she is diplomatic when needed and blunt when required. Everyone at the school knew who she was, depended on her, and did what she asked.”

Throughout her tenure, in addition to her daily duties, Ms. Clepper was involved in numerous volunteer activities at Brookstone. She manned the gate at sporting events, greeting fans from far and wide, drove the van for various athletic teams, served as a literary coach, chaperoned the Junior/Senior proms, and supported school service projects. She was truly a fixture around campus.

In April of this year in the height of the COVID-19 quarantine, a group of co-workers, students, and alumni coordinated a surprise, drive-by birthday parade to celebrate Ms. Clepper’s 88th birthday—complete with a police escort. Several parade-goers even left gifts in her front yard. It was not the first time the school had celebrated her, you can click here to read more, but it was definitely one to remember.

Retirement wasn’t something Ms. Clepper talked about. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and everyone to work virtually, a daily routine engrained in her for nearly five decades was broken. according to her son, David Clepper, Ms. Clepper enjoyed her new schedule. While she told her family she didn’t want to leave the school “holding the ball,” she began to consider retirement. “She realized she could relax a little bit more and be okay,” he said.

Not one to seek out the limelight (Ms. Clepper expressly asked that the school not organize any “displays of appreciation” around her retirement), she has been formally recognized by Brookstone students on previous occasions.

The Class of 2012 dedicated its yearbook to her, calling her a “guiding light.” In the dedication, they wrote, “When thinking of the person who makes the days run like they should, or when one is looking for the answer to a mystery, there is that one person on campus that comes to mind. Her experience here has earned the love and respect of teachers, students, and their parents. She has touched the lives of nearly every graduate and we all have so much thanks to give for that.”

That same year, Ms. Clepper was awarded the Timothy Baldwin Tarpley Award, which is presented by vote of the Senior Class to a teacher who has consistently and unselfishly devoted extraordinary personal commitment in serving the interest of Brookstone School and its students.

“Mom was so surprised to be recognized because the award is ‘for teachers,’ but in fact she has taught life lessons to everyone who passed through the Upper School under her watch,” said Anna Clepper, the oldest of Clepper’s three children.

That she did. Her wisdom and playful banter was even codified in a Senior quote in the 2015 yearbook. “Parker, you can’t have a doctor’s appointment every day at lunch.” Ms. Clepper

Having literally served multiple generations of Brookstone families, her gentle nature and calm, kind demeanor will be missed. Thank you Ms. Clepper for devoting your life to serving and loving the students, faculty, and families of Brookstone. You will always be our Queen!

UPDATE: Click here to read an article from the Ledger Enquirer celebrating Ms. Clepper.

Edited to add the below comments from Facebook:

Ms. Clepper is at the top of a very short list of people who connect the dots from my experience as a student to alumna to parent at Brookstone. Thank you for your selfless service and hard work. Enjoy your well deserved retirement.

Marie Clepper was the glue that held the Upper School together for the 15 years I was a teacher there. May she bask in the glow of a well-earned and deserved retirement. Bless you, Marie.

Congratulations, Ms. Clepper!! No one knew Brookstone as well as you!!

Enjoy your retirement, Marie! Brookstone will surely miss you. Thank you for the tremendous impact you’ve made on the culture of the institution and the hundreds of students who have walked those halls!

She is a gem! Her patience with each and every one of us through the years couldn’t be matched. Despite the chaos that comes with high schoolers, she always managed to find humor and kept us all going!

Ms. Clepper…the woman of endless patience!!! Thank you for years of love and service to your Brookstone family!!!

Grateful when Mrs. Clepper handed me a belt to wear rather than calling my parents in the early 80’s and answered my calls and emails as a parent in the 2000’s.

An incredible example of loyalty and caring. Thank you, Ms. Clepper, for your influence on thousands of young leaders!

Brookstone will not be the same without her. In a school full of traditions, she has been the best. When in doubt, ask Mrs. Clepper. She has impacted so many lives and is dearly loved. Enjoy your well deserved retirement Ms. Clepper!

Congratulations Ms. Clepper! I know the Brookstone family will miss you. Thank you for the years you spent reassuring me that yes, my son did make it to school okay once he started driving. Your kindness and caring will always be appreciated.

We love you Ms. Clepper and you deserve a Medal of Honor for all you have raised and endured. What an incredible lady you are.

She has been a special part of literally thousands of students’ lives – including mine. I was fortunate enough to be her Teacher’s Aide for a trimester during my Senior Year, and I will never forget her sly sense of humor and seemingly endless patience with some of my fellow students. One precious, kind & smart lady. Honored to know her. Thank you for your faithful service at Brookstone. You touched many lives in special ways.    

My favorite part of Brookstone will always be her.

*Thank you to Allison Shirreffs for contributing to this blog post.

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