In Memoriam: W. Ray Cleere, President Emeritus of Piedmont College, Demorest, GA

Piedmont College is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

W. Ray Cleere, 81, of Atlanta, died on January 26, 2018 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Born in Atlanta, he loved the city and often told stories about his grandmother’s boardinghouse on Kennesaw Avenue and his first job as a bread truck driver. After graduating from Bass High School, he went on to earn degrees from Appalachian State University, University of Mississippi, and University of Georgia.

In 1995, Dr. Cleere become president of Piedmont College. During his tenure, he developed academic programs, but students also took note when he and the college chaplain walked their dogs, Emma and Rosie, on campus. This “courtship” led to their marriage in 2006. Upon retirement in 2011, Ray taught graduate courses for Piedmont and served as a trustee of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School. Throughout his career, Dr. Cleere was known for encouraging individual students and colleagues to make the most of their potential.

He is survived by his devoted wife, Ashley Cook Cleere; loving daughter, Jennifer Cherry Cleere (Kelly Burns); sister, Adrienne Cleere (Robert Moor); and extended family.

A memorial service will be held on February 17 at 1:00 pm at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, 105 Courtland St., NE, Atlanta. A reception will follow. Memorial contributions may be made to Piedmont College, PO Box 429, Demorest, GA 30535. A full obituary and guest book are available at