Clen­daniel re­called as a ‘quiet hero’

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

DEN­TON — For­mer Den­ton Town Coun­cil mem­ber Robert Clen­daniel passed away Thurs­day, June 22, at Com­pass Re­gional Hos­pice in Cen­tre­ville. He was 61.

Po­lit­i­cal col­leagues and friends re­mem­bered Clan­daniel as a strong ad­vo­cate for the com­mu­nity and a quiet hero. He joined the Den­ton Town Coun­cil in 2006. He served as mayor in 2011 and vice mayor twice. He re­tired from the coun­cil in 2016. The

town honored Clen­daniel at the coun­cil’s De­cem­ber 2016 meet­ing.

“He had great fore­sight and per­spec­tive,” said Den­ton Mayor Abi­gail McNinch. “His agenda was mak­ing sure the com­mu­nity and the demo­cratic process pre­vailed.

“I re­ally grew to like him and re­spect him,” she said. “I worked very well with him. He was the corner­stone of our town coun­cil. He was very well re­spected. He was a quiet hero.”

McNinch’s first ex­pe­ri­ence in the po­lit­i­cal field with Clen­daniel came as an op­po­nent in the 2011. She ran as a write-in can­di­date against Clen­daniel, but Clen­daniel won the chal­lenge.

McNinch would later join Clen­daniel on the town coun­cil when she was ap­pointed to a va­cant seat in 2013.

“I re­ally didn’t know how it would go to be on the coun­cil with some­one I ran against,” she said. “To Robert’s credit, he re­ally coached me and helped me on the coun­cil. He taught me so much. He was a men­tor for a lot of elected of­fi­cials.

“Over the years we would laugh about how we were op­po­nents in an elec­tion, yet we agreed a heck of a lot more than each of us thought we would,” she said. “When he was hav­ing health is­sues and it was his time to be mayor, he with­drew his name and rec­om­mended me for a sec­ond term as mayor. That re­ally meant a lot to me. That was one of the big­gest hon­ors I’ve had for him to rec­om­mend me.”

McNinch said Clen­daniel’s legacy will be his re­spect for the demo­cratic process and his ad­vo­cacy for the com­mu­nity.

“He was a stick­ler for the process,” she said. “He would never take a chance and rush an item through to meet a dead­line. He didn’t want to get the town, the tax­pay­ers in trou­ble by agree­ing to a bad deal with­out all the in­for­ma­tion.

“Elec­tion Night for Robert was the Su­per Bowl,” she said. “He was fas­ci­nated by the Demo­cratic process and pol­i­tics. He knew world­wide pol­i­tics. It was just re­ally in­ter­est­ing to get his per­spec­tive on things. You al­ways knew that he cared.”

Born in Seaford, Del., on July 23, 1955, Robert was the son of the late Lindsay Ed­monds Clen­daniel and Anne Louise Chaffinch Clen­daniel, and his late step­mother, D. Faye Clen­daniel. He was a 1973 grad­u­ate of North Caro­line High School. He lived most of his life in Den­ton.

Clen­daniel was the owner and op­er­a­tor of Busi­ness In­ter­net Sys­tems LLC in Den­ton. He also was ver y in­volved in lo­cal and state Repub­li­can pol­i­tics, and a mem­ber of the Caro­line County Repub­li­can club.

“We mourn the pass­ing of our col­league and friend Robert Clen­daniel this morn­ing,” the Caro­line Repub­li­can club posted on its Facebook page. “Robert valiantly bat­tled cancer and con­tin­ued to vol­un­teer and sup­port the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in spite of his de­clin­ing health.

“We all feel a tremen­dous sense of loss with his pass­ing but have so­lace in know­ing that Robert was com­fort­able and with­out pain as he passed,” the state­ment said. “The time that we shared with Robert will be trea­sured and honored as a true bless­ing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Carol and their fam­ily.”

State Sen. Ad­die Eckardt, R37-Mid-Shore, cred­ited Clen­daniel for help­ing her run for the House of Del­e­gates.

“He was re­ally in­stru­men­tal with help­ing my cam­paign,” she said. “We then en­cour­aged him to run for lo­cal of­fice, and I was re­ally glad he did be­cause Robert helped the town of Den­ton and Caro­line County to a bet­ter place.

“He al­ways had the cit­i­zens at heart,” she said. “He al­ways put the cit­i­zens first. We are go­ing to miss him. We are all bet­ter off be­cause of Robert.”

Del. Jeff Ghrist, R-36-Caro­line, served as a Caro­line County Com­mis­sioner dur­ing Clen­daniel’s tenure on the Den­ton Town Coun­cil.

“He has al­ways been a fis­cal conser va­tive,” Ghrist said. “He was a huge stal­wart for the tax­pay­ers, es­pe­cially when it came bud­get time. He was great at scratch­ing the sur­face of ev­ery nickel.”

Ghrist re­called how dur­ing his first term as county com­mis­sioner he was a bit jeal­ous of Clen­daniel.

“For some­time, he had more power than I did as a county com­mis­sioner,” he said. “He had the ear of Jack Cole for so long. He had a lot of in­flu­ence at the county level. He had a big im­pact on pol­icy, not just for the town of Den­ton but coun­ty­wide as well.

“Robert was a class act,” he said. “I would reach out to him for ad­vice. He had the com­mu­nity at heart.”

Clen­daniel’s in­flu­ence ex­tended into other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Caro­line County.

“Robert would al­ways make time for small talk,” said Ridgely Town Com­mis­sioner An­thony Casey. “Whether it was about world or lo­cal af­fairs. He was some­one you could turn to for ad­vice when I had no idea what I was do­ing and no one else was will­ing to help.

“He re­ally wanted to see peo­ple to suc­ceed,” he said. “I am so glad I was able to meet Robert and have him men­tor me in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.”

Clen­daniel is sur vived by his wife, Carol Clen­daniel of Den­ton; a step­sis­ter, Deb­o­rah Fitzger­ald; two step­broth­ers, Ron­ald Lee Cook and Kevin B. Cook; an un­cle, R. Shelby Clen­daniel of Cam­bridge; and sev­eral nieces and neph­ews.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice will be held at 11 a.m. on Mon­day, July 3, at the Christ Epis­co­pal Church on Gay Street in Den­ton, where friends may visit from 10:30 to 11 a.m. be­fore the ser­vice.

The in­ter­ment will be pri­vate.

ROBERT L. CLEN­DANIEL

FILE PHOTO

Caro­line County Com­mis­sioner Wil­bur Le­ven­good, left, and Den­ton Town Coun­cil­man Robert Clen­daniel, mid­dle, talk with Larry Ho­gan dur­ing Ho­gan’s Gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign in June 2014.

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