How Will You Be Remembered When You're Dead?

Neil Clement, a Washington state emergency manager, has passed.

by Eric Holdeman / November 20, 2019

John Gargett, Whatcom County, Wash., emergency management director, shared the information below:

"Neil Clement passed away peacefully on November 18, 2019 in Bellingham. Neil was a dedicated and devoted Emergency Manager for 40 years, as well as a personal friend to everyone who knew him. 

Fittingly, he began his career in Emergency Management, on May 18, 1980, the day Mount Saint Helens erupted.

During his career, he served as a Public Information Officer, a local emergency manager, the Washington State Homeland Security Region One Coordinator, as well as serving on multiple State Boards and Associations including the Washington State Emergency Response Commission and the Washington State Emergency Management Association. He concluded his career as the Emergency Management & Security Officer for the Port of Bellingham. Under his leadership in Whatcom County, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was started and the Incident Command System was introduced. His contributions to Emergency Management were life-long and his impact will live on.

The family would like to invite everyone to Neil’s memorial service and celebration of life which will be held at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225, on Monday November 25th from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the United Way of Whatcom County Neil Clement Campaign by visiting and clicking on the Donate Button. When making your donation, please enter “In memory of Neil Clement” in the optional Workplace Field."

I would like to add my own memories of Neil. Neil and I connected while going through the Professional Development Series (PDS) way back in 1992-93. Neil was once a news reporter [if I remember that right] and we shared an interest in how we relate to the media. Neil had what we look for in an emergency manager — beginning with common sense. When I had ideas about how to proceed on a particular topic or program, I would contact him and run my thoughts by him. He was always a wise counsel.

Neil accomplished great things by his dogged pursuit of trying to make his community disaster ready. When I was looking for someone to join in a body of work to get counties or ports to work together — I could count on Neil to be a willing participate and help with the effort. 

Going forward, I'll miss our phone conversations. I'll miss having someone to ask for advice. I'll miss his stories from the past of how when the Olympic Pipeline blew up in his community — he had to step out of the EOC to see the disaster first hand to understand the scope of what had happened. I will really miss his wise counsel and willingness to chat, to commiserate with, or to share a laugh or a trouble with. Godspeed, Neil Clement!

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