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Meet Clem Kreider








Clem was born in Annville, Pa. and was the youngest of 3 children. He had 2 older sisters. 


Clem went to prep school for several years, and then went on to Yale. His schooling was interrupted by the Korean War. He was so fascinated by films about World War II that he wanted to be part of the action. He was sent to Hokkaido, Japan to the headquarters company of the First Cavalry Division where he joined the Division newspaper and worked 4 months as a reporter. He requested to be sent to Korea where he was assigned to a heavy mortar company on line against the Chinese.

Clem served variously in the gun crew, in the fire direction center, as a forward observer, and a liaison to battalion headquarters. He desired to go on patrol, but his hopes did not come to fruition because the armistice ending the war was signed. 


Clem chose the army over the navy because he easily became seasick. Ironically, out of less than 2 years in the army, he spent 7 full weeks at sea on various troopships. 


When Clem arrived home he enrolled in various courses in different colleges, but got into graduate school in math at the University of Penn. He then completely changed direction and applied to medical school, eventually graduating from Temple Medical School. He interned at Pennsylvania Hospital, returning to Temple for surgery, and a residency in neurosurgery. He entered into practice in Harrisburg where he had grown up, with 2 other partners. 


Clem married before entering medical school, and had the first of his 3 sons shortly after. He had married a devout Catholic, though he was an atheist. The marriage lasted 23 years. 


The lure of the Jersey Shore was pulling Clem and his family, and Harrisburg was "too far right, and uptight," so they moved to Monmouth County where Clem joined the Staff of Jersey Shore Medical Center, where he was the head of the neurosurgery department for 24 years. 


Clem married a second time to Yvonne, who is a nurse, and is very supportive of RBH and all its programs. Yvonne had 2 sons, and Clem had 3. Two of their sons died tragically, Yvonne's elder son being killed by a drunk driver. Their remaining sons are very successful, one is an ER doctor, and they have given them 4 grandchildren who they dote on. 


Clem's goal in life is just staying alive and enjoying every day. One of his main interests is cooking, which began one day when he dreamt about meatloaf. Instead of just dreaming about it, he decided that he could just make one himself. Now, one of his greatest thrills is going into Wegman's and observing the huge number of choices nature has to offer. He loves the entire process, perusing cookbooks, shopping, preparing, cooking, and enjoying (Lucky Yvonne!!!). He has entered several chili cookoffs. He also keeps up with the latest information on neuroscience, and other scientific journals. 


Several people have influenced Clem in his life, but 2 stand out: Paul Kurtz and Carl Gustav Hemple, who was a philospher of science, logic, truth... 


Clem's pet peeves are how the christians are indoctrinating children into their fundamentalist beliefs (I suggested to him that he might want to read The Good News Club by Katherine Stewart if he really wanted to be "peeved!''). He is also disturbed by Obama's continued program of allowing faith based initiatives to continue. Clem did say that this article would be way too long if he listed ALL his pet peeves! 


Clem's parents were "believers," but nothing beyond. His mother thought Sunday School would be beneficial. At an early session he found the other students, and the teacher, admiring a painting of Jesus' face. It was painted with the eyes closed, but if you stared at it, the eyes appeared to be open and staring at you. Clem immediately recognized this as an optical illusion. He lumped it in with stories of miracles and magic he had been hearing and decided religion was a scam. 


Several years ago Clem saw an article about RBH, came to a meeting, became a member, and has supported it in every way, e.g. hosting committee meetings at his house, etc. He promotes humanism by living a life full of purpose and compassion, learning, supporting the arts, respecting the dignity of others, and by being eager to meet new people and bring them to RBH. 


It is not possible to do justice to the humanists I have interviewed because their lives are so rich, interesting, and diverse. Please try to engage them at meetings to get more details. 

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