IN MEMORANDUM: Paul Clopper Passes Away

From Craig White:
It saddens me greatly to have to post this, but so many of us loved him. Paul “Clop” Clopper, speech and drama instructor at San Marino High School for many years, Passed away early Sunday morning, August 18. Clop’s wife, Jo, said he had not been doing well for several weeks. He passed out on the floor around 3:00 AM and the paramedics could not revive him.
Jo requested that there please be no phone calls to her with condolences. She says she cannot cry and listen at the same time. Understandable. But if you loved him the way I did, a card, sometime, would not be out of order.
The last address I have for them is:
                    Paul & Jo Clopper
                    2483 Loma Vista
                    Pasadena, CA
Craig White
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23 Responses to IN MEMORANDUM: Paul Clopper Passes Away

  1. Chuck Ludlam says:

    My wife and I visited Clop on our way to the SMHS reunion. We had a lovely hour with Clop and Jo at their home on Loma Vista. Clop was doing very well, not showing any of the signs of forgetfulness Jo had warned us about. We have kept in touch with Clop and Jo for many years now and always visit them when we get to LA. It has been a great privilege to know Clop and Jo. He’s a mentor and a friend of considerable importance to me. A man of stature. Same with Jo. When we returned from our LA Reunion trip, I posted a report to my friends that included the following tribute to Clop: “Paul Clopper, The Music Man: Whenever we go to LA, we find time to visit with Paul Clopper, the legendary drama teacher for 30 years at SMHS, and his wife Jo. Clop, as we called him, produced 4-5 theatrical productions each year, capped off by a spring musical. Hundreds of students at the school were devoted him, including Chuck. Clop was profane and addicted to cigarettes, but a man of stature who was a demanding and loving teacher. When he was rehearsing “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,” a parent complained it was too risqué so he cancelled the show and refused for the rest of his tenure to organize a spring musical. In 1991 when the district ran into funding problems, 200 Clop alums organized a huge fund raiser to bring back the musicals, including “Funny Thing.” SMHS again produced the best high school musicals in the state, receiving an award for that distinction in 2008. Spending time with Clop always feels like being with a distinguished and influential mentor and dear friend.” I’ll miss him but always feel privileged to have known him. Chuck Ludlam

  2. Ellen Herlihy Olsen says:

    The best part of being at SMHS was, for me, Paul Clopper and Drama.He provided the opportunity for those of us who needed a place in the high school spectrum to be part of a group. Mostly we had fun, but Mr. Clopper was always a teacher and his lessons have never been forgotten.

  3. Pamela S says:

    As did so many others, I too loved (Clop). His class was the highlight of the day for me in a place as forbidding as SMHS. He knew more about that school than the principal did. I will never forget his bet with another teacher who said there were no drugs on that hallowed campus and Clop said he’d prove him wrong by next period & of course, he did!

    I will always remember him for everything he taught, not only drama but life.

  4. Pamela S says:

    The zip code for his address is: 91104-3404

  5. Kim Leisner Ogle says:

    Mr. Clopper was an amazing man, teacher, mentor, disciplinarian, and inspiration for all of his students.. He was tough as nails about everyone’s perfection of performance, and wouldn’t accept anything less – and we knew it or we were “dismissed immediately” (in no uncertain terms either…) He changed lives, listened to us when we “hung out” in his tiny office which had, behind his director’s chair, “God Is Love Angels”. I know I never asked him about this, but I will bet others did. If he stapled a picture of either our sr. portrait or a picture of a scene from one of his plays, that was like having an Academy Award – we had earned his respect. God Bless you Mr. Clopper – our world has lost an incredible man who, I hoped lived an incredible and rewarding life. We love you

  6. Debbie Foulkes says:

    Thanks to Mr. Clopper for expecting me/us to live up to our best selves. He made an indelible impression on me and was a model for my career as a high school drama teacher, except for the smoking in class, of course.

  7. Alison VF says:

    The epicenter of my high school experience and beyond. Paul Clopper’s sphere of influence breeched the walls of SMHS more than any other, to inspire, entertain and engage the entire community thru the SMHS drama program, and mentored Bennett well in his footsteps to do the same. God Bless Him and his dear wife Jo.

  8. Greg King says:

    I had the opportunity to have a role in several of Clopper’s productions. These plays were some of my most memorable high school experiences. I also had the privilege of spending the summer of 1974 with Buz and Jo Clopper at their slice of heaven up in Canada. This was truly one of my most favorite trips of all time. Among other great memories up there, I will forever remember sitting in a boat with Clopper and fishing while we were listening to Nixon resign on the portable radio. Paul Clopper had a huge impact on my life, and I will always be grateful for the experiences that we shared.

  9. Scott Carter says:

    I was class of ’62 but I got this link and read comments from Craig and Ellen so I’m sharing thoughts here. We’re all writing because we loved, respected (and sometimes feared) the man. After decades in radio I now teach and mentor broadcast students. I’ve had the sheer joy of helping dozens of them start their careers, some at the biggest stations in L.A.

    I’d love to take credit for their successes, but the truth is that I’m simply instilling in them what Clopper instilled in us: setting the bar high, working hard, working together, no tolerance for bullshit excuses. He gave us self respect and let us do the work ourselves. It worked back then, it works now.

    I’ve thanked Clopper face-to-face many times and told him that I’m passing his legacy on to my students. DAMN – we were lucky to have him in our lives!

  10. Bill Chillingworth '74 says:

    Although I was not a drama student, and only participated in one musical, Bye Bye Birdie in my senior year, Mr. Clopper made me feel as though I had been a part of his special department for my entire HS career. He coached me like all the others who had been with him for years, and his pure humanity and generosity provided a “life experience” for me that I have never forgotten. God’s peace…

  11. marilyn shearin stolfa says:

    Just want to share in your tributes to “Clop” from our little home in Moab, UT. His influence pervades memory and present life, and I’ll be forever grateful.

  12. Kay Cornwell Romer says:

    He was a wonderful person who, along with Bennett Wright, helped me find a passion. My heart is broken — I never saw him again after I graduated in 1979.

  13. Bill Podley, Class of 1968 says:

    It is wonderful to see so many posts on Clop. Like many who’ve commented, it was my privilege to have kept up with him and Jo through the years. To this day I carry a ragged piece of paper in my wallet with what was then the back stage pay phone number, accompanied by the comment, “May it never be needed.” This has been a 45+ year testimony to his influence on my life in the area of self-discipline. All Thespians will recall his stern admonition never to miss an entrance, even if we were (I’ll be polite and say “quite sick”) as we walked on stage. Our tribute to him to raise funds for the drama program and Neher Auditorium some years ago was a reminder of the huge impact he had on the lives of so many. More mellow in his later years, this former Marine was a gentle giant, loving his “kids, as well as his beloved Jo, to the end.

    • Pamela S says:

      Do you remember me? Pam Sigler? I don’t remember you being in any of my classes but I do recall your name. Were you in Brigadoon? I was in the 2nd chorus, up in the catwalk of the theater. Only Clopper could have trusted us not to fall through the ceiling. I thought Clop would last forever, especially after defeating his nicotine.
      Do you know John Gordon?

    • Pamela S says:

      Yeah, I believe he referred to it as flipping our socks or something. We were also admonished to tell him first if we needed to leave his class to see to this bodily function—or else!

  14. Patti Agajanian Mashikian says:


  15. wendy gordon says:

    Another voice joining in the chorus of tributes to the late great Paul Clopper. Those of us who knew him clas of ’67 called him “papa”, though I’m not sure he liked it. He taught me the only excuse for missing an entrance is your own death- advice that has stood me in good stead for many years and careers. Here’s to you Papa. and, BTW, you were wrong about one thing – dancers can so act.

    • Pamela S says:

      Hi Wendy, this is Pam Sigler. Didn’t know you too well but you were in the class of ’68. Do you have a brother, John? I think Mr. Clopper once told me he had gone on to be in some Hollywood productions.

  16. john Mueller says:

    I am 75 years old and was in Mr. Clopper’s home room, speech class, on his debate team, and the father in The Man Who Came to Dinner all at Sterling High in Illinois. He was central to my high school life. He even took some of us on a memorable trip to his cabin in Canada one summer.
    It was quite likely his first teaching job and all the qualities that made him so great were well apparent. He was without a doubt the most influential teacher I had and I thought of him often over the years. Thank you Clop!

  17. Stuart Yount says:

    Per Jo Clopper’s request, I have been telling folks that wish to, make a contribution in Buzz Clopper’s memory to:

    The Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates
    1750 Altadena Drive
    Pasadena, CA 91107.

    Buzz was such a dear man & one of a small handful of my most meaningful mentors.

    Stuart Yount

  18. Pamela S says:

    Thank you, Craig for giving us this place to write our remembrances of The Greateat Teacher Ever! You must have been in my sister’s class. Her name is Susan SIGLER Dodson and she is the one who sent me the link. We have lost an important part of our pasts; a person who offered us a haven from the worst parts of anyone’s high school angst. We were very fortunate to have had him and I believe he will live on in all of us.

  19. Mike Pearl says:

    Saddened to hear of this great man’s passing. I am sure he is calling for another run through somewhere, as he did to us in Mr Roberts at 11:30 one night. “Mom, honest, I was at school until 1:30”
    Wonderful memories all, from being in Man Who Came to Dinner as an 8th grader, to reprising Mr Roberts at the fund raiser for the Dept many years later.
    Oh God how I wished that he could have been the mold for all teachers. He made SMHS bearable for so many of us, not judging anyone on anything but effort!
    He also was the guy who instructed me on what makes a perfect pair of legs on a woman! Never forgot that one.
    God Bless you Paul………..

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