W. Norris Clarke, R.I.P.

When I lived at Ciszek Hall, the Jesuit house of First Studies near Fordham University in the Bronx, the residents ranged in age from 23 (a first-year scholastic) to 83 (our house father). Despite the six decades that separated the two, both had studied philosophy under the same Jesuit: Norrie Clarke, S.J. Norrie (or, to be more precise, W. Norris Clarke) passed away Tuesday in the Bronx after suffering a stroke late last week. He was 93 years old, had been a Jesuit for 75 years, and mentored literally thousands of young philosophers over the years. He was a favorite of Fordham graduate students and Jesuit scholastics, both for his philosophical enthusiasms and for his idiosyncratic behavior in and out of the classroom, and was renowned for his generosity with his time and erudition. Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., former president of Fordham and current associate editor of America, said that "Norrie Clarke was the rare combination of scholar and teacher who continued to have a transforming influence on his students well into his ’90s." His wake will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 15 in the Loyola Hall Chapel on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, and his funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 16 in Fordham’s University Church. 

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9 years 9 months ago
He was one of the best professors I ever had. Utterly dynamic. After one of his metaphysics classes I had an intuition of being. I stared at an object in front of me and marveled: It exists!
9 years 9 months ago
The first time I met norris, he was seated next to me at dinner. He said, ''peas be with you'' and passed me the vegetable dish. I fell for him like a rock from that moment on...
9 years 9 months ago
Fifty years ago I was a lost "day-hop" with a C average. A course he taught (Epistemology, I think)turned me on and woke me up. When he learned I had majored in Psychology he lent me William James' "Pragmatism" and we discussed it and others on walks around campus and in the Botanical Gardens (the fence of which he climbed over on occasion, his habit flowing behind him.) I always attended his lectures on alumni teaching days and when I sent him my book he responded with encouragement and a critique as detailed as when I was a junior in Larkin Hall. He was a person who has been in my mind and heart all these years. How lucky I am that he was put in my life.


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