Dorothy T. Clemens

August 28, 1933 - October 1, 2015
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Dorothy T. Clemens, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.  She was the daughter of Max and Ora Thelen of Berkeley.  She married William A. Clemens on January 22, 1955 and had four children:  Catherine (James) Palmer of Normal, Illinois, Elisabeth Clemens (David Larson) of Chicago, Diane Knott (Jeffrey) of Fullerton, California, and William V. Clemens (Ryoko) of Berkeley.  She is also survived by seven grandchildren and an extended family of in-laws, nieces and nephews, grandnephews and grandnieces.  She will be deeply missed and her love will live forever in all of our hearts.

A longtime Berkeley resident, Dorothy attended John Muir Elementary, Willard Junior High, and Berkeley High School, where she met her future husband, Bill.  After a long courtship and a quick draft-driven wedding, she completed her degree in social work at the University of California Berkeley, before joining Bill in Germany for his tour of duty with the US Army in 1955-56.  That year marked the beginning of wide-ranging travels, including many European trips, multiple sabbatical years in both England and Germany, and journeys to Japan, China and Mongolia.   In autumn of 2014, she and Bill enjoyed their first cruise, through the Greek Islands and along the Turkish coast, bracketed by visits with many friends in London, Munich, and Berlin.  When at home, from Kansas to Berkeley to Europe, she welcomed colleagues and students of paleontology for dinners, parties, and extended stays.

Dorothy’s memberships in both the University YWCA and First Congregational Church of Berkeley began in her university years and continued until the end of her life.  She served on the University YWCA board and as interim Executive Director, while contributing to the Y’s centennial as author of Standing Ground and Starting Point: 100 years with the University YWCA in 1990.  She revised the volume 20 years later.  Dorothy was a valued member of the First Congregational Church, serving as Moderator in 1977.  To both institutions she brought her enthusiasm, graciousness, capacity for diplomacy, and formidable organizational skills.  For many years, she worked part-time at Berkeley Adult School, teaching English as a Second Language, and volunteered with English in Action at the YWCA.

Dorothy held her extended family together as the center of all news and memories.  She wrote her father’s biography – Max Thelen:  Straight into the Law – maintained wonderful scrapbooks, and corresponded extensively with family and friends, both local and international. 

The family would like to express our deepest thanks to her caregivers, especially Lilly and Molly, and to her doctors as well as the home nursing and hospice staff of Kaiser Permanente.  We are grateful for the dedicated care and support given by all.

A memorial service will be celebrated Saturday, October 17th, 2015 at 2 p.m.  at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way.  A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall at the church.  A private inurnment will be at Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito.   

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Dorothy’s honor to the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, YWCA 2600 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, or to the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA  94704.

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Service Schedule

Cemetery Information

Date: Thursday, January 1, 1970

Sunset View Cemetery Association


101 Colusa Avenue, El Cerrito, CA, 94530

Memorial Information

Date: Saturday, October 17, 2015

Time: 2:00 pm

First Congregational Church


2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA, 94704

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Timeline for Dorothy Clemens

Born: August 28, 1933
Died: October 1, 2015

Condolences for Dorothy Clemens

Sunset View Mortuary

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Sunset View Mortuary.


Karen Zilberstein posted on 10/10/15

Having spent years as a child tromping in and out of the Clemens household and testing wind-up toys in the hallways, I will be forever grateful to the kindness and welcome Dorothy provided. She was a steady presence, always willing to show interest in our lives or produce a snack as needed. I have treasured my friendship with Diane and the rest of the family over these many years. My condolences to all.


anne gillingham posted on 10/7/15

My condolences to the Clemens family. Although I cannot pretend to know the thoughts or actions of another that remain outwardly invisible, from what I could see Dorothy was a good person - attentive, thoughtful, kind, reliable, emotionally mature and honest. She was an active member of her family and a conscientious member of the community. She was my great aunt and one of those people who took the initiative and never complained about minutae, at least not to me. She was a good person and I hope to see her in heaven some day, if I get there.