Memory Book for Clete Daniel
Professor Clete Daniel, professor of labor history and director of Off-Campus Credit Programs, died suddenly in his home on Sunday, April 18. He joined the ILR School in 1973 and he left deep and lasting impressions on his students and colleagues over these past 37 years.
Since 1989, Professor Daniel also served as Director of ILR's Off-Campus Credit Programs. In that role, he assisted many students in securing credit internships in the U.S. and around the world; he was the driving force behind the school's program at University College Dublin, a semester abroad program of growing interest to ILR students.
He is remembered for his love of teaching, his wonderful sense of humor, his quiet acts of generosity, and his witty "one liners." Professor Daniel will be greatly missed by the ILR community.
Please share your memories.
Professor Daniel was not only an interesting and engaging lecturer who made a sometimes dry subject come alive, he was a genuinely caring and open teacher. He gave me excellent advice about pursuing graduate school and was a practical and down to earth individual. His loss was such a sad day for me personally and for the ILR community overall, and although late in coming my deepest thoughts are with his family.
- Irene E. Hendricks, Stamford, CT - Jul 2, 2010
Professor Daniel was an excellent professor and he was very passionate about labor history. I still remember some of his lectures decades after hearing them.
- Pamela Keresztesy (aka Kerestesy), Warren, OH - Jun 19, 2010
Prof. Daniel was one of my favorite professors. He was a great story teller - he didn't lecture, he told stories. For most of us, his stories would be the closest we would ever come to working in a factory (who can forget his Campbell's Soup tales). He made the stories of American working men and women come alive. As important, he loved being a teacher. You got the feeling that he really liked interacting with his students and wanted to help them to succeed in life and didn't just suffer them as an occupational hazard.
I was greatly saddened to hear of his death and his family and friends are in my thoughts.
- Eileen Hennessey, Washington DC - Jun 18, 2010
Professor Clete Daniel was an exceptional teacher and I still remember many of the things I learned in his labor history class. He was also extremely helpful to students and he would get involved to help students with any issue they might have whether it involved his class, another class or an internship. My condolences to his family, Clete left such a wonderful impression on so many people and inspired us to enjoy learning.
- Rhonda Carniol, New Jersey - Jun 15, 2010
I had Professor Daniel for a class on labor history during my MILR program. I remember his class well not only because he appeared to lecture without notes, but he did so in a way that truly made the history come alive. It was like listening to a documentary about the labor movement for each class, enunciated with clarity and passion for the subject. I can't recall ever taking a better history class mainly because of the way Professor Daniel could keep me engaged via the true stories of the labor movement. Not just through the facts, but through the way the facts were presented to provide context and meaning. Professor Daniel was a fine example of what set ILR at Cornell apart. My condolences to his family and friends, and to the ILR community, for the loss of an exemplary Professor.
- Stephen T. Best, MILR '92, Shawnee, KS - Jun 1, 2010
I had Prof. Daniel as a transfer student taking Labor History 101 in the Spring of 1980. He had this wry sense of humor I was particularly fond of. To this day I still use his line about the Everett (Washington) massacre being the first and only naval battle in US labor history. As I have lived in the PNW since graduating, this story has been told many times to illuminate local history.
He also tended to refer to those who were way left in the political spectrum as wearing "red socks". On our last day of class I made a presentation of a used pair of red socks I owned to him and thanked him on behalf of the transfer students for a great learning experience. He proceeded to thank me and unceremoniously dropped the socks into the nearest trash bin.
Rich Berkowitz, ILR '82
- Rich Berkowitz, , Seattle - May 27, 2010
Professor Daniel's first year was also my first year at Cornell ILR since I transferred from a community college. He was a bright, happy man, a delight to listen to. I remember his left lapel was always turned out, either because he had so many clothes in his closet and/or he kept pulling at it. The tweed jackets with a little leather...A great man has passed, but his memory and contributions live on. My condolences to the family. Bruce
- Bruce S. Trachtenberg, Niskayuna, New York - May 24, 2010
Clete is so loved, as these wonderful tributes tell so well. I was his first M.S. graduate student - he was my M.S. committee chair. Every change he suggested for my thesis made it better, every one. When my final draft was destroyed on the computer, a simultaneous system, disk and something-else error - I can't remember, it was in the early 1980s - we just rescheduled my defense and soldiered on. We caught up a few years ago when I placed Cornell labor interns in D.C. and abroad. It was such a delight to reconnect and to know how passionate he was about the Cornell intern program. No superlatives do him justice. I delight in knowing how much he loved his family and how dearly loved he was and is. I grieve for them...and for all of us. Thank you, Clete, for making a difference, and for being in my life and so many others.
- Louise Walsh, Washington DC - May 21, 2010
This comes to extend to Clete's family sincerest sympathy on this significant loss to your lives and sincere gratitude for sharing Clete with the ILR School community for these many years. My closest contact with Clete as an ILR colleague was in his execution of service as a leader of our ILR student internship program. I was always grateful for his continuing contribution to these efforts and for his willingness to help the ILR Employment and Disability Institute network ILR students with disability organizations around the world, to assist in finding meaningful experiences that exposed our students to global disability advocacy interests working to minimize employment discrimination for people with disabilities. Thank you, Clete, and thank you Daniel family.
- Susanne Bruyere, Ithaca, New York - May 20, 2010
In 1982 I was a new student at ILR. My very first class at Cornell was Labor History and the professor was Cletus Daniel.
I was quite intimidated by the University at first and I have a fairly clear recollection of the book purchases I made before school began and the number of books required for Clete's US Labor History course. Entering Clete's class, I recall thinking that Labor History would be a killer course and perhaps not very stimulating. I was very wrong.
My classes with Clete remain high points in my Cornell experience. Bitter Harvest, a biography on John L Lewis... these were books that Clete introduced to our class and they had a profound impact on me. Through Clete, I developed an interest in and appreciation for history - both US labor history and history in general - and I have Clete to thank for that. I'm not sure that I would have an interest in reading history today had it not been for Clete Daniel.
Although I didn't stay in touch with Clete after graduation, were I able to speak with him today I would share with him how much I enjoyed and to this day remember the story of his life changing moment working at the Campbell Soup canning facility in California (I believe) and how after a mishap on the factory floor he came to the decision that returning to school to continue his education was his destiny.
When ILR Professor Brooks passed away several years ago as a very elder statesman, I recall thinking that Cletus Daniel would carry on Brooks's octogenarian-plus teaching legacy. With Clete's passing ILR students have been cheated and we are all suffering a great loss. Clete will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go to Clete's family and the ILR community.
- AH, ILR '84, Fairfax, Virginia - May 18, 2010
I was saddened to read of Clete Daniel's passing.
As a student I was struck by his humor, humanity and capacity to make ILR History relevant to contemporary workforce issues. Most recently, his was a welcome face upon my visits back to the university. I will miss his wit and authentic, inquisitive nature.
- Kenneth DiPietro, Seattle - May 18, 2010
Like the entire Cornell community, I was saddened to hear of Prof Daniel's passing. It is with fond memories and deep respect that I remember my time in his class. It was one of my first experiences at Cornell and I have never forgotten his profound command of the subject, his high standards and expectations for his students and his dry and often cutting sense of humor. I don't remember all of my professors from my Cornell years, but I remember Clete clearly and I'm happy that our paths crossed so many years ago. I'm only sad that more future Cornellians will not have the opportunity to interact with such a talented and genuine human being.
- Dave Pace ILR '81, Dallas - May 18, 2010
When I think of my years at ILR, I can't help but think of Clete Daniel. His class on labor history represented what an ILR education was all about for me: engaged, critical thinking but with a sense of humor that was as critical as critical thinking! I learned about the history of labor in the US in a way that was so memorable that the stories and images are still with me. I am a better HR scholar because of Clete's labor history class. (Too bad, Clete, you aren't able to respond to this with one of your classic witty "one liners".) I will truly miss not seeing you at the ILR School.
- Janet Marler, Albany, NY - May 18, 2010
Professor Daniel had an unforgettable warmth and wisdom about him. His lectures made students laugh and inspired them. We had monthly meetings to talk about life and how young people could make positive contributions to workers' lives. Professor Daniel touched my ILR experience and outlook in my work, and I am forever grateful for the memories together.
- Mark Eskenazi, Washington, DC - May 18, 2010
Discussion in the coffee room among the grad students circa 1977:
"They are all reactionary pigs."
"Well, Not Roger Keeran and Clete Daniel."
Discussion in DC among ILR graduate circa 1990:
"They are all reactionary pigs."
"Well, not Clete Daniel."
ILR is poorer for his loss...
- RFS, DC - May 17, 2010
I had the honor of serving as Clete's TA for Labor History when I was in the MILR program in 1979 and 1980. Clete always treated me like a fellow faculty member instead of a grad student, and somehow found the time to give me feedback on my teaching, provide me with career advice, and occasionally grab a beer after class. He was a warm, funny guy with a real passion for history. One of my prized possessions is a 1981 autographed copy of his superb book, The ACLU and the Wagner Act, in which he wrote: "To Joe Costello, a valued friend and colleague." That meant a lot to me then and means even more to me now. We'll miss you Clete.
- Joe Costello, Berwyn, PA - May 17, 2010
Clete Daniel: A Remembrance
In September 1973, Clete and I began our first full-time, tenure track teaching jobs at the ILR School. We were part of a group of six or seven new faculty that started at the same time. Of that group, Clete and I formed the strongest friendship. It was one of those highly unusual, quotidian friendships that I have only had once before in my life, that is the kind of friendship where you see each other every day, have coffee breaks together, eat lunch together, and sit together at meetings. Clete and I also traveled together to professional meetings in Phoenix, Denver and particularly California, where I got to meet Clete's brother Paul and family and see him in his native habitat savoring a Mexican feast and fiesta. When I married Carol, Clete and Helen came to Montclair, New Jersey, for the wedding, and when Clete and Helen married later the same year, Carol and I were their witnesses. The two couples would often see each other on the weekends to eat dinner, or play cards. Eventually, Clete and I also shared a secretary, Joyce Wright, and an office suite.
The two of us had a lot in common. We were the same age, both labor historians interested in history from the bottom up. We both had long hair and beards and smoked a pipe. We were the only faculty members who lived downtown. Plus, our politics were decidedly leftwing, united in our contempt of the malevolent Nixon, the dimwitted Ford, and the fraudulent Carter. Neither of us really fit into the wine and cheese plate culture of Cornell. We were the crab grass on the Ivy walls.
Clete and I differed, too, and in terms of temperament, personality and humor, Clete had all the aces. We both faced the pressure of performance reviews and publishing or perishing, but on top of that Clete was a father, and as funny and charming a child as Jake was, there was nonetheless, the stress of being a single parent. Clete handled it all with aplomb. What I remember most fondly about Clete was his unflagging goodnaturedness. In the face of life's frustrations, tensions and stupidities, Clete would saunter down the halls, with a light swing to his arms, whistling to himself, or smiling as if in on some practical joke of the universe. Aside from my own daughter, Alice, and the seven dwarves, Clete was the only person I ever met who whistled while he worked. He was also the only person I ever met who could write, write books, while watching the Yankees on television. (Maybe it was easier to do this as a Yankee fan than a Mets or Tiger fan, but still talk about multitasking!)
Clete had an infectious laugh and the best sense of humor. He not only made me laugh. He made everybody laugh, including himself. He could make a horse laugh. He could make the most pompous old Cornell fogey laugh, and laugh at themselves. His humor was gentle and natural and as much a part of his way as Mark Twain's. Like Twain, Clete's humor rested on a bedrock of seriousness and compassion. He was absolutely serious about his empathy with the oppressed and the underdog, whether it was farm workers, textile workers, or workers at Cornell. And the object of his humor was the same as Twain's, pomposity, hypocrisy, self-satisfaction, and self-promotion. He would express his incredulity by narrowing his eye lids, rolling his eyes up and cocking his head in mock seriousness. He could puncture someone's self-inflating remark by rejoining, "We will be the judge of that." He scorned much that passed as profundity in academia. He said most social scientists were engaged in proving common sense. He greeted another colleague's repeated obscurantism by saying, "I don't understand a goddamn thing he says." Like all humorists, he realized that such remarks only gained in hilarity by repetition.
He could go for the funny bone just for the fun of it, too. He had a few stock quips and gestures that never failed to produce a laugh. He never met an expectant mother without asking her if she was sure it was not just gas. And he never failed to overhear of some suspected infidelity or to suggest some preposterous imagined infidelity without making a gesture, which I think was his own invention, a gesture that was at once so obscene and innocent, so graphic and adolescent that even the most uptight listener could not avoid giggling.
When I think of Clete's enjoyment of life one word leaps to mind - relish. He relished the company of children, a good story, a good pipe, good food, and good beer. What didn't he relish? He relished life. This made Clete and Helen a perfect match, for she liked to cook and bake, and he loved to eat what she cooked. Few things could equal the enjoyment he got from Mexican food. He not only savored the taste of Mexican cuisine, but he savored the words as if saying the words evoked their flavor - tamales, chimichangas, chile relenos, Dos Equus, Carte Blanca. And while pipe smoking can be one of the most frustrating exercises ever invented for enjoyment, still Clete smoked his GBD like a man who was content with his life, he smoked it with relish and with a smile to the last ember.
- Roger Keeran, Jersey City, NJ - May 17, 2010
As a freshman, I struggled with many aspects of the ILR school. However, having Professor Daniel as a teacher and advisor helped smooth out some of those difficulties. I always wanted to be a history major and naturally gravitated to Labor History. I don't remember a lot of what I learned in 4 years at the school, but Big Bill Hayward, the Wobblies, and the Molly Maguires stand out - all courtesy of Professor Daniel.
- Mike Curran '79, CT - May 17, 2010
I remember taking Labor History from Professor Daniel a little over 20 years ago. He opened my eyes to the struggles of the labor movement and greatly affected my thinking on politics, economics, and history. He also had a great sense of humor, and the stories of his own life in California on the assembly line were funny and poignant. He is a professor I will always remember and I am saddened by his passing.
- Peter Vladimir, Great Neck, NY - May 17, 2010
With Professor Daniel it was not just history it was the present.
While there is no doubt there's a lot to say about Professor Daniel and his class...one of my vivid memories of Professor Daniel is a story that always comes to mind when I think about him.
He came in to class one day with a cast on his arm. Obviously the class was curious; how did it happen, where did it happen, when did it happen. Professor Daniel smiled and said remember this advice...if a small animal runs in front of your car it just may be better to run it over...I thought that seemed a little harsh.
Professor Daniel finished the story... if memory serves me right the professor was driving with his daughter in the car, an animal (I think it was a rabbit) ran in the road...true to his nature and always looking out for the little guy...he swerved to avoid it, but while swerving he lost control, his car ran off the road and hit a tree. While I believe everyone was ok, it was obvious that it could have been much, much worse and Professor Daniel was shaken up. I bet my bottom dollar if the same situation arose Professor Daniel would swerve out of the way again - it was his nature to help out.
Not all the wisdom Professor Daniel shared with us was about labor history.
Today, I have the honor of teaching a graduate course at Georgetown University and I hope my students appreciate my class half as much as we appreciated his.
- Rod Nenner, Fairfax. VA - May 16, 2010
I knew Professor Daniel from his job as Director of ILR's Credit Internship Program. I did my internship in Geneva, Switzerland at the International Labor Organization, and Professor Daniel traveled all the way to Geneva over his spring break to visit with me and my supervisor. I'm sure that this is just one of many examples of the personal interest that he took in his students. I am forever grateful to him for setting up that internship opportunity, as it has opened many doors for me, both academically and professionally. Thank you, Professor Daniel.
Rachel, ILR '04
- Rachel D., Washington, DC - May 16, 2010
I was one of Professor Daniel's students during the Spring semester of 1992 and he ended up advising me during my off campus internship. His advice, guidance, and encouragement along with his fabulous lectures make him part of my best ILR memories.
- Sarah M, Rockville, MD - May 16, 2010
Professor Daniel inspired me to think, learn, write and teach history through all the details. The tale of one union or one boycott, I learned, was the political lesson.
I am not trained as a historian -- at least not more than I was trained by Professor Daniel. I am only a graduate of Yale Law School. Still, many of my books are classified (or sub-classified) as history. One of them was named the book of the year by the American Political Science Association. "How did you learn to write in that story-telling way?" my colleagues wonder. Well you see, I had this professor...
I am sorry that I never told him about his extraordinary impact on me and my deep gratitude.
Thank you Professor Daniel --
Julie Mertus ('85),
- Julie Mertus, Baltimore - May 16, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my favorite professors. I always admired the way he spoke with such confidence and eloquence. He was able to make labor history a truly fascinating subject. He will definitely be missed by the entire Cornell community.
- LBN, Mystic, Connecticut - May 15, 2010
I had Professor Daniel for freshman Labor History in Spring 1974. His first assignment was a book that seemed a little "offbeat." Prof. Daniel led the class discussion in which all students agreed with the book's propositions and he let everyone defer to the book, then he systematically criticized the author's data and conclusions and left us with one lesson: "If I teach you anything, it is to be skeptical." I enjoyed his class so much, I took his "Labor in the Age of Enterprise: 1865-1914" in the Fall 1974 semester. He not only assigned MANY books, but he also gave each student one year in the era and we had to read the entire NY Times on microfiche for that year and write a paper on the condition of labor, taking into account political, social, and economic conditions. It was a tremendously time consuming and demanding assignment, and was a fascinating and valuable lesson in historical research and in U.S. history. He was a great teacher.
- Nick D'Ambrosio '77, Clifton Park, NY - May 15, 2010
I was fortunate to be a TA for Professor Daniel in the late 70's. As many have already pointed out, he was a wonderful person and a great advisor to students as they both developed as scholars and sorted out their career plans. A great scholar, teacher and mentor who was very generous with his time.
- Mark Fanning, Great Falls VA - May 15, 2010
I wanted a chance to try the world outside of Cornell, just to see what it would be like so I applied for the ILR credit internship program. Unsure of myself and my abilities, I was afraid I would be rejected. After my interview with Professor Daniel, he looked at me and said, whatever you do, you're going to do great. I had just met this man, but I respected him so much. What he said to me gave me the confidence I needed to make a big decision that would change and enhance my Cornell experience. I am sure that I am not the only one. I thank you, Professor Daniel.
- Laura Ortiz, Bronx, New York - May 15, 2010
I first met Clete in January, 1976, in the process of transferring from the engineering school into ILR. While I knew that Engineering wasn't the right move, I wasn't sure about ILR. After taking Clete's labor history class I knew I had found a home and have never looked back. Who can forget Clete's lecture on those wild wacky anarchists - still my favorite undergrad lecture. Much later due to my involvement in the Alumni Association, I got to know Clete as a peer. What a wonderful individual. He will be missed.
Dean Burrrel, ILR '79
- Dean Burrell, Scottsdale, Az - May 15, 2010
Professor Daniel changed my view of the world. Is there anything more that can be said of a teacher?
I came to ILR because I wouldn't have to take science or math, and it had a state college tuition. And then I took labor history with Professor Daniel. This was real history, about real things.
I have been a labor lawyer for 29 years now and think/hope I have done some good for working people.
Because of, to some very real degree, Professor Daniel.
- Tim Connick, Albany, New York - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was a kind, caring person who always thought about the best interests of his students. He was very generous with his time in helping me identify and select my Credit Internship and he was a tireless advocate for the ILR School and community. I was very saddened to hear about his loss. He was a great pillar and true inspiration for all of us proud alumni of the ILR School. He will be sorely missed.
- Ketan Patel, Hoboken, New Jersey - May 14, 2010
What a super guy professor Daniel was. He was both a scholar and great teacher by way of his insight, knowledge and, of course, sense of humor. I have to admit that in addition to having learned much about the labor movement from his lectures, I've also borrowed a few of his jokes and re-told them (many times) to friends and family. I remember that in describing an old silent film about the labor movement he couldn't help but observe how "quickly people used to walk back then." He will be deeply missed. My deepest condolences to the Daniel family.
- David Lewis, Westport, CT - May 14, 2010
I came to ILR in 1976 as a grad student and soon met Clete. Clete had been on the graduate admissions committee and knew I had worked for the United Mine Workers before applying to Cornell. A few months into the semester he asked me to speak about the UMW to a group of students interested in unions. It had never occurred to me that I had any insights worth sharing, but his encouragement helped me gain confidence that, at least on this one subject, I did. He also encouraged me to pursue my interest in the labor movement through the courses I took and the papers I wrote. I am grateful for the interest he took in me and the intellectual doors he helped open.
- Paul F. Clark, University Park, PA - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was an institution in the ILR school, and one of its finest professors. He was respected by all who took his course. He gave us our first perspective on the labor movement, and made us feel its relevance in historical context, with good humor and sharp wit.
I am honored to have been taught by this man.
- dk, Boston - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was a rarity -- a true TEACHER who "won" the publish or perish test in an Ivy League institution. While I was a student, I worked in the ILR Archives and helped him search for primary source material. He always treated me with respect and dignity -- like I was smart! When I took his courses, I found he consistently provided the same courtesy to his students. Best of all, he brought history alive -- as it should be. My sympathy to Professor Daniel's family.
- Janet Moran, Haddonfield, New Jersey - May 14, 2010
I had Professor Daniel in one course, my senior year in 1994. It is indeed an understatement on my part to call his lectures informative, relevant, interesting, and engaging; they were all of these things, and more. Moreover, they were in fact, at times, gripping, and I cannot say that so readily about other courses that I took, and certainly have taken since.
But more poignantly than simply taking his class as a student, I was witness to a statement that he made, a statement that stuck with me over the years and to this day - a statement about Cornell-at-large, and the education that we students were receiving (and I paraphrase):
'We here at Cornell endeavor to teach you not facts and theory and history, but HOW to think period.'
I shall never forget that, and I shall never forget Professor Daniel. Rest in peace good sir, you will be missed.
- Gerry Cooney, Washington, D.C. - May 14, 2010
I absolutely WAS one of the "slackers" folks have mentioned here, and I think I got a C in Prof. Daniel's freshman labor history class! Despite my so-so grades and effort, Prof. Daniel was always approachable, fair, and affable. He struck me as a guy that understood that life wasn't always about grades, and we all have our own paths. I am now an educator as well, and I think of Prof. Daniel when I am working with some of my students who aren't as motivated. He taught me to appreciate every student you have, not just the ones with A's. He will be missed.
- JR, Chicago - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was and still is one of the best professors I ever had. He won't be forgotten by any of his students!
- SA, Washington, DC - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel started at Cornell the same year I did. He was the ILR 100 Labor History professor for our section. I remember his corduroy sport coat, blue work shirt, blonde hair, and ruddy good looks. Oh yes, he was a wonderful historian and gave us all a great love of American labor history to launch us on our ILR studies. Professor Daniel will also be remembered for enriching the ILR study abroad and credit internship program which has given so many ILRies the opportunity to deepen their experiences and understanding of the international world of work.
- Ruth Raisfeld, Scarsdale, New York - May 14, 2010
I remember Professor Daniel in the early 1980s as an excellent story teller. He kept my pen busy, not knowing what was his color commentary and what was a historical fact to be tested on. His assigned readings like Working and Out of This Furnace gave meaning to the labor movement that I still carry with me after nearly 20 years working in management. Thank you Clete.
- will garand, rancho palos verdes, ca - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was my faculty advisor for 4 years. I sought him out after hearing his first labor history lecture (he was my professor 1st semester, freshman year). I later showed up at his office and said, "I'm not sure if I agree with your politics, but I'd really like you to be my advisor. Is that possible? (I was formally assigned to someone else)." He agreed and I knew I could be myself with him.
While an amazing professor, what I remember most about Professor Daniel is his impact outside the classroom. His humor, compassion and genuine student involvement made ILR a community and made the school feel warmer and more fun. I remember running late for his class and standing on my tippy toes to peer in the window. Someone behind me said, "Is he there yet?" and I said, "No, thank God." only to turn around and find it was him.
Professor Daniel was accessible for the inevitable times of frustration or fatigue - I remember blowing my nose more than once on the roll of toilet paper kept in his office full of books for just such occasions. He helped me achieve my dreams - going abroad for my 3rd year at LSE (not typical at that time), completing an honors thesis, getting corporate internships so I could get a good job upon graduation. I always felt his involvement in broader college issues was not because it was "his turn" to oversee the credit internship program or to be the department chair, but because he so completely married the specialness of being in college at Cornell with its place in your life and the wider world. He brought both an appreciation for exploring your interests and following your dreams with a grounded sense of the importance of experience and the hard work required to achieve them. We were selected to be in the Cornell recruiting video, and while the footage was pretty stock standard, our relationship was not. I count him among a handful of people who really saw me and encouraged me to trust myself and be my best (whatever that meant) - he was one of the most influential people on me and my strongest faculty tie to Cornell.
Even after college, he helped me at the most important times - with grad school recommendations (twice) and listening to the twin desires for a corporate career and a creative one. I stopped in to see him a few summers ago (unannounced, as always) with my younger brother. He made time for us, told me about his family and the Ireland program and remembered the specifics of my ambitions. I left with a bright smile, a lighter step and a fuller heart.
Like so many people, I am profoundly grateful for the time I had with Professor Daniel and very sad that he is gone. His bright light is in so many of us who knew him well. My deepest sympathy to his family, friends, colleagues and students.
ILR Class of 1994
- Anne Marie Yarwood, NY, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was the professor for the first class I took as an undergraduate in ILR in 1975. He was a wonderful lecturer, witty person and shared with students his profound love of labor history and the labor movement.
He helped imbue me, along with the late Maurice Neufeld, with a love of history that has provided me with pleasure that has lasted far beyond many other interests accumulated over the years.
- Seth Agata, Kinderhook, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was such an amazing teacher and made a subject like Labor History (which I was not overly excited to take - maybe second to Labor Econ) come to life. I still have all of the books that we read in his class - The Jungle being one that I will never forget. I had never fully comprehended all that workers had undergone and why unions were put in place to begin with. His stories from his time at Campbell's (besides making me not want to eat soup again) always left us laughing. He helped me get my internship at a labor law firm in Washington, DC. My experience that semester with the Cornell in Washington program was beyond my expectations. He even helped to coordinate a trip for all of us to go to the Capitol and meet lots of senators and congressmen. He understood how important it is to learn "in the real world" and gave so much to the credit internship program. My sympathy and prayers go out to his family. What a wonderful gift he was to all of us who knew him. He will be missed.
- Jennifer Grindle Clemens, Denver, CO - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was my Labor History teacher. He brought complex and significant events to life. In that delicate first year of ILR, he made labor history fun and vital (although those 200 page a night reading assignments were quite the challenge). I learned a lot from this fine gentleman with the distinct voice and enlightened perspective. We will all miss him.
- SLI, Pleasantville, NY - May 14, 2010
In the spring of 1983, when addressing the availability of a make-up exam for a student who might have a conflict, he said that he would be glad to offer a make up exam if you couldn't take the regularly scheduled exam because of a trip to the South of France. And then he said wistfully, "but it would have to be the South of France..." I don't know if he had ever been to the South of France when he made that remark, or if at the time it was just a place to which he wanted to travel, but given how he said it, I hope he got there at some point.
- Steve Kirson BS '86, Atlanta, GA - May 14, 2010
Professor Clete Daniel is the best professor I have ever had and one of the most wonderful and warm-hearted people I have ever met. I remember his engaging style of teaching, rigorous standards, humor, incredible knowledge and appreciation of labor history acquired both through academia and "real life" experiences, patience during office hours, smile and benevolence. Professor Clete Daniel has been both revered and beloved. He is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed. God bless him and the ILR School.
- Victor Mikov, Sofia, Bulgaria - May 14, 2010
Although I never had Clete as a professor, I did share the coffee room with him many times during my 5 or so years as a grad student at ILR during the early 1980s. I learned a great deal from these sessions. One of my many memories of him was when he won a teaching award and, at the packed assembly when that announcement came, he said of the undergraduates assembled who had nominated him that they had "shown a rare display of good taste." As a master craftsman of the English language, Clete exemplified just how much can be learned from a well constructed lecture.
- Joshua Schwarz, Oxford, Ohio - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my first professors here at the ILR school. I will never forget those thoughtful discussions and lectures he provided. He was genuinely interested in his students and provided any assistance or guidance whenever it was requested. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to interact and learn from Professor Daniel, he will be greatly missed.
Thank you Professor Daniel
- UM, Tri State area - May 14, 2010
As one of the students in ILR's Credit Internship program at the ILO in Switzerland, I was lucky enough to meet with Prof. Daniel several times, before and after the experience. His kindness and attentiveness was a great comfort to our group as we navigated the process of finding housing and tackled the challenges of living abroad. During and after that semester, his genuine interest in our work and travel experiences was clear. With Brigid Beachler, he facilitated what was for me, a significant life experience, a time that is the source of many fond memories. Prof. Daniel was an integral part of that experience, and for that I owe him a debt of gratitude.
- Christopher Repole, Brooklyn, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was amazing. His lectures were always so interesting and he instilled in all of his students his love for labor history. He was by far the best professor lecturer I have listened to at Cornell, and I am so grateful that I was able to take both his introductory labor history class as well as his special topics in labor history class this semester. One of the best moments in his class was when he read us love poetry written for a mistress by Warren G. Harding. After the Cornell suicides he spent a precious class talking to us as more than mere students about the conflict between mental health and academic rigor. I appreciated how honest and sincere he was towards all of his students, and he will be missed.
- EMR, Ithaca / Maryland - May 14, 2010
With a tear, a smile, and a nod of the head...words are incomplete.
- Stuart Basefsky, Ithaca, N.Y. - May 14, 2010
I'm quite certain that without Professor Daniel's Labor History class as a freshman at ILR years ago, I wouldn't have appreciated what ILR really stood for, how far workers had come to earn the rights they have, and how important it is to remember that. I'm not in the labor field or practice of labor law, but Mr. Daniel helped me understand which side to be on, and where to stand on these issues, even though we never discussed them outside of the context of classwork. He seemed to embody the tradition of labor rights and because of that, and the immense respect I held for him, in some way that is hard to describe, I trusted everything that he taught me as the real, unskewed version of history. And I believe he was right. It's so amazing how he distilled decades of history into those amazing lectures. He was immensely supportive in helping me go to law school, and he was the one person I visited after graduation. Thank you, Professor Daniel.
New York, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was literally my first professor at ILR. I recall going to his class in the morning on the first day of classes, and then emerging thinking, "I am going to like this place." His class was a key factor in setting me on a course I continue to follow, within the labor movement. (I worked for the Bakery Workers Union after college, and for the last 13 years have worked for AFSCME.)
Professor Daniel's class was something of an "ah-ha" experience for me. It helped me see the broad patterns which still shape my thinking, and gave me the detailed knowledge that has provided texture and context to my whole career. Over 20 years later, I still recall many details I learned from Professor Daniel about the Knights of Labor, the early AFL, etc. In fact, as I write this in my office, I can glance to my right and see Professor Daniel's book, "Bitter Harvest," on my bookshelf, along with all of the other textbooks we used in the class. These books, like my memories of the class, are treasured possessions for me.
I fondly recall Professor Daniel verbally jousting with students who had different views than he did. He certainly welcomed opposing views, but he "gave as good as he got" in terms of expressing his own. Oddly enough, one small vignette I recall very vividly is an occasion where Professor Daniel couldn't get the overhead projector to work, and said something like "In a faculty meeting I was accused of being a Luddite, and I didn't deny the charges." For some reason, that one humorous aside has stuck with me and comes to my mind very often when anybody, myself included, is having trouble getting technology to work properly.
To wrap up, Professor Daniel was a great instructor, and I couldn't have had a better introduction to the labor relations world I was about to enter in earnest, and in which I remain happily engaged. His class has had lasting effects on me. He will be greatly missed.
- Gary Storrs '92, Alexandria, VA - May 14, 2010
I will always remember Professor Daniel for his wit, his eloquence, and his generosity. ILR can sometimes seem claustrophobic, but Professor Daniel's lectures always highlighted the importance of the labor movement in the broader world. It was a privilege to be his student. He will be missed.
- KG, Brooklyn, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was my very first professor as a transfer student in 1977. His course opened my eyes to the labor movement and struggles suffered by so many in the late 1800's and early 1900's. He was compassionate, passionate about his research and students, and a wonderful lecturer. And, of course, we read more in that first class than I can remember reading in all of my courses combined at the school from which I transferred. I was awed by his knowledge and command of labor history. Later in my time at ILR, he accepted me for independent study and, through his critical analysis, helped me develop writing skills which support me to this day. The ILR School and its students have been so blessed to have so many dedicated teachers and scholars; Professor Daniel was one of the very best examples of those blessings. His passing is sad, but the memories shared by all about him bring back great memories of the education I received from the ILR School and professors like him. Just recently, when negotiating with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on behalf of a client, I could not help but think fondly of him when I could relate Professor Daniel's stories of the California farm workers to the stories I was told of conditions endured by tomato pickers in Florida today.
- Steven Wall, ILR '79, Law '83, Philadelphia PA - May 14, 2010
I didn't get a chance to speak one-on-one with Professor Daniel until I interviewed for ILR-in-Washington during junior year. He immediately made me feel welcomed and valued in a way that was pretty rare for me at ILR. I left that interview with a renewed sense that whatever I wanted to do with my life was just fine. Also, he was funny as hell.
- DM, Minneapolis - May 14, 2010
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Daniel. As an 18 year old freshman 3000 miles away from my home in Los Angeles, Professor Daniel was part of my introduction to Cornell University, ILR and college life. He wasn't only my labor history professor, but also a friendly face in Ives Hall and someone I could go to for advice or just to chat. My condolences go out to his family and close friends.
- Obinna Ogbunamiri '01, Los Angeles, CA - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my first Professors in college and taught me what to expect from myself in college. I remember vividly the inspirational speeches he gave on the first and last day of class. I am saddened to know that students will no longer receive that wisdom. Professor Daniel was truly a great teacher.
- DK, Chicago, IL - May 14, 2010
I was privileged to have Prof. Daniel for a course in 'American Labor Between the Wars' in the spring of 1984. What could have been stimulating was turned into an academic tour de force as Prof. Daniel used selected events tangential to the subject to shine a light onto labor history.
I heard him read Henry Ford's testimony in his libel suit against the Detroit Free Press, the love poetry of Warren G. Harding to his mistress, and other readings which brought insight as well as laughter.
I still remember parts of those lectures, even though it has been over 25 years ago.
He will be missed, but perhaps God wanted to hear one of Prof. Daniel's lectures in person.
- Brian J. Collins, Leawood, KS - May 14, 2010
I've never looked at a can of Campbell's soup the same, nor taken for granted the hard work of those all around me. Thank you, Professor Daniel, for making very real why it is that we all came to ILR as teenagers and left as labor activists.
- Anna Molander, Sacramento, California - May 14, 2010
In addition to being an excellent teacher, Professor Daniel was the kindest most caring professor I encountered at ILR. He was nonjudgmental and supportive in my decision to pursue an unconventional Credit Internship at a labor union in Montreal and did all in his power to make sure my internship was successful. I will always remember him motivating me to pursue an experience in the labor movement that changed my life forever.
- ACS, Queens, NY - May 14, 2010
I was a kid who fell in love with labor history after taking courses from Professors Daniel and Keeran. So much so, that I decided to get my Masters as a labor history major with Professor Daniel as the Chair of my Masters committee along with Professor Hildebrand. I was also a TA for Professor Daniel and I now very sadly realize that I must have been one of his first TAs and M.S. candidates. I am full of guilt for having let all these years pass without thanking him again, after my life has unfolded, for showing confidence in, and very diligently mentoring, a young kid who at the time needed someone to believe in his abilities, and his mind, and to encourage him to pursue his interests. Professor Daniel did all that for me, and over the years I have told many, except him, how grateful I am to have had Professor Daniel in my life. I can only hope my message reaches his family, and that their knowing he made a real difference in my life can provide just an iota of relief from their sadness.
- Rick Delello BS '76, MS '77, Whitehouse Station, NJ - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was the best professor I have had at Cornell. It wasn't what he taught me about labor history that made him a great professor, it was about the way he taught it. As a write this, it brings a smile to my face thinking about the witty comments he would make during class that would make any student laugh. He had so much passion and experience in what he did that it was impossible not to have so much respect for him. From the moment he first walked in the classroom I wanted to earn his respect and he motivated me to do well by setting very high expectations. He was a wise man who shared so much wisdom, knowledge, and laughter with his students and I am lucky that I had the honor of being one of them.
- CLB, Ridgefield, CT - May 14, 2010
I had Professor Daniel for my first labor history class. It was an incredible class and I learned about aspects of American history that were basically absent from my earlier education. More importantly, the reading assignments (which often amounted to hundreds of pages per week) made me realize that I was no longer in high school - this was college. It really changed the way that I learned.
- Noah Shannon, New York, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my most memorable and favorite professors. I still have some of the books he wrote and others that he assigned for his labor history classes. He brought labor history to life. Study for prelims with my friend Daniel O'Neill was actually fun as we tried to retell the various tangential and not so tangential back histories of the figures and movements discussed in class. Professor Daniel's book on the ACLU and the Wagner Act captured the directional shift of the ACLU during the Great Depression. I interviewed him for the ILR paper and I really enjoyed his Campbell Soup reminiscence at the end of the class. Too soon gone, but not forgotten.
- Daniel Coultoff '89, Orlando, Florida - May 14, 2010
Clete was the best professor I had in 1977 and the best my daughter had in 2001. That says it all. He left a legacy. Thomas Scott said, "A man cannot leave a better legacy to the world than a well-educated family."
Clete did that for my family and for the entire ILR family. And he did it with grace and a great sense of humor.
- Brian Hackett, Charlotte NC - May 14, 2010
Prof Daniel made the transition to freshman year, from freshman colloquium to two terms worth of labor history as enjoyable/challenging as possible. Not only did he make labor history relevant, interesting, and rewarding, but he helped me understand how to be successful in a college course. The one-liners, the stories, and the time he spent with students made him a true gift to all who knew him.
- itai dinour, forest hills, ny - May 14, 2010
One of my fondest memories of Professor Daniel was an interaction we had when I returned to Cornell for my 5-year Reunion. At the time, I was a relatively new mother, having given birth to my first child 8 months before. Professor Daniel asked me what I was doing with my life, and I showed him a photo of my son. He quipped, "Oh! I see you are still helping the little people!" I have never forgotten his dignity and charm, and will always value having been one of his students.
- Janet Behrman Del Greco, Valhalla, NY - May 14, 2010
Clete Daniel started teaching the year I started at ILR. He was the best professor I had there. He taught with a passion for his subject and cared deeply about his students. I can only remember a few professors after 37 years and Clete is one of them. He will be missed by those of us who were influenced by him and those who will never get the chance to meet him.
- robert ehrlich, Florida - May 14, 2010
As a young and impressionable undergrad in 1982, Clete had my favorite one-liner. Speaking on the subject of bosses, he said "I really love being a professor because I don't have a boss. I mean, I guess in the end Frank Rhodes is my boss but I don't talk to him, he doesn't talk to me and I think we are all better off because of that. You know, I'll bet if you woke that man up at 3:00 in the morning he'd talk just like you and me." Priceless.
- SAE, New Jersey - May 14, 2010
Clete was one of the best guys I ever had the pleasure of knowing. In fact, I saw him at the local Wegmans just a day or so before he died, and we had a pleasant but all too short a chat. How I wish now that it had lasted longer. I send my sincere condolences to all of his family, friends, students and colleagues. He is already sorely missed.
- Joe Cambridge, Newfield, NY - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel always acknowledged everyone in the school. He always said hello in passing. He was greatly admired for his teaching and kindness.
- Joan Roberts - May 14, 2010
While I do work at ILR I actually know more about Clete from knowing his son Jake. From the time I met Jake he regularly spoke words of praise (in many different ways) for his dad. Having lost my own dad at a very young age I always thought highly of the love and respect that Jake showed for his dad, and I was very pleased when I got to meet Clete at a family function. Eventually, I came to work at ILR. Clete and I would chat on occasion but it was mostly as me being his son's friend than involving my role at ILR (although I did plan on working with Clete on developing a distance learning program between ILR and Dublin). I am leaving this note in the memory book to comment on what I see as Clete's legacy here at ILR.
Yesterday I interviewed (on video) ILR students regarding their internship experiences. Several of these students stated that they had planned on getting corporate jobs or going to law school after ILR, until they did their internships. In several cases (within this very small group of students) the students stated that they now plan on dedicating their careers to workers and the rights of workers. I believe that Clete's work in developing ILR internship programs, and how these internships can change students, will serve as his legacy here at ILR. I am sure Clete would have loved to hear how these students' career plans have changed as the result of their internships.
- Don Bazley, ILR - May 14, 2010
Professor Daniel had an amazing ability to captivate an audience with his brilliance and knowledge. When he spoke, he commanded respect and reverence. That being said, his actions and deeds at ILR transcended his abilities as a professor. I always appreciated the extent to which he was truly interested in his students, his ability to light up a room with a witty comment and the devotion and energy he put into everything he did. Professor Daniel will surely be missed and I am extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from him.
- ZRB, New York - May 13, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my first impressions of what an ILR professor should be: kind, compassionate, understanding and intelligent. I enjoyed his straightforwardness and his humor. May God reward him for his faithful service to the cause of Democracy in the workplace.
- dps, warsaw - May 12, 2010
While I never had Clete Daniel as a professor, I will always remember him for helping me get involved with the labor movement. When I was a first-year, I was fortunate enough to win the Chaim and Ida Miller Award. This award helped to fund a summer internship with the Milwaukee Area Labor Council that I would not have been able to do without the award. It was a thoroughly fantastic experience. I will even be returning to the Labor Council this summer working on their political program for the election season. Through my experiences at the MALC, I am now intensely motivated to be a fighter for social and economic justice and a fighter for labor movements and working people across the globe. The reason I am so indebted to Professor Daniel is that he helped to select the winners of the Chaim and Ida Miller Award. Because of his confidence in me, I believe I have found my life's calling. Thank You so much professor for the many lives, including mine, that you have inspired.
- Ethan Erickson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - May 12, 2010
While I never had the privilege of having you as a professor, I have heard nothing but great things about you from friends. Without the hard work that you put into the ILR School, things would undoubtedly be much different for students, staff, and faculty alike. Thank you.
- Ray Mensah, Brooklyn, New York - May 11, 2010
Professor Daniel was the best professor I had during my collegiate career. He was able to show me just how much I could learn from one class. I think I learned more during his labor history class than I did in several other classes combined. He taught me how the rich history of the labor movement helped shape this nation and let so many people live the American dream. Furthermore, he facilitated my semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland, which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I credit so many of my positive memories of Cornell to this man and he will be dearly missed.
- Morgan Zimmerglass, Round Lake, NY - May 11, 2010
It's been a long time since ILR but I'll always remember when you arrived and the many visits in my office as you passed through to Jim Gross' office in the CB department. You will be dearly missed by many and my deepest sympathy to all your friends and family.
- Nancy Van Camp, Virginia - May 11, 2010
Thank you for your tireless efforts. The doors you opened will help change and shape the future.
- SA, Tokyo, Japan - May 10, 2010
In 1974, when my late husband Bob Stern and I moved to Ithaca from Nashville, TN, I taught preschool at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Among my favorite three year olds was Jacob Daniel.
Jake's Dad, Clete, would pick him up at the end of the morning and strike up a conversation with my co-teacher, Helen Dubrule. After a few months, they developed a friendship, and before we knew it, they were married, and Helen became Helen Daniel.
When Bob was quite ill and Clete would come to visit him at University Hospital in Syracuse, nothing cheered Bob up more than hearing Clete's stories of his adventures at the Campbell's Soup factory. The story about his taking a nap inside one of the giant vats, awakening to the sound of the blades starting to turn, and trying to scramble out before becoming Cream of Clete never ceased to send us into cascades of laughter, no matter how many times we heard the story.
Clete was a warm-hearted and caring friend, and he will be sorely missed.
- Corinne Stern, Ithaca, NY - May 9, 2010
One of the world's lights just flickered a little, Professor Daniel was and will be a man who taught me to look at the world from many perspectives. As his student and friend I will miss him.
- Robert Franklin Parlett, USA - May 3, 2010
I was fortunate enough to be a student of Professor Daniel. I too heard of all the stories about how tough of a professor he was and how difficult it was to get a fair grade. I have to admit, he was tough, but he was fair. Through his teachings, I gained an understanding and an appreciation of the history of our country's labor movement. I was very saddened to hear of his passing. He was a dear man and one of my favorite ILR professors. He will be missed.
- AA, Brooklyn, NY - May 3, 2010
I have had the gift of having Clete as my friend, teacher, and colleague for 25 years. But that seems much too short. It was a gift that came in many forms. He used to ask me why I still sat in his class sometimes when I was his TA for several years in a row, I knew the material, and had heard the lectures before. The fact is I loved to hear him lecture and engage with his students. I watched him in order to become a better teacher myself, but also because it was watching a master teacher at work. He always got the best out of his students, not by being a hard grader, but because of the combination of eloquence, wit, and level of interaction which he brought to his lectures which kept his students not just engaged but learning.
Clete was also one of the finest scholars in our school but he never bragged or gloated about his work so you would never know it unless you read his work or spoke with others in his field. One of my favorite memories was time spent with him talking about our shared interest in organizing and he would share stories with me from his interviews with farm worker and textile organizers about their organizing in the 1920s and 1930s.
Lately I saw less of Clete because it has been harder for me to walk across to the other building. But true to his character he started to make a point of looking out for me as he walked in to work and stopping by my car for a short talk before he went in, always sending me off with that kind sparkle in his eye that inevitably brightened up my day.
We, at ILR were truly privileged to have him in our lives. He will be loved and remembered by many for generations to come.
- Kate Bronfenbrenner, Ithaca - May 1, 2010
Clete was my labor history professor for two consecutive semesters. He had a way of lecturing about labor history that made you feel engaged like you were listening to an intriguing story. I will never forget his use of the expression "cheap thrills and debauchery." He managed to work that into quite a few lectures.
- KM 2001, New York City - Apr 30, 2010
I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out exactly what to say about one of the finest, most brilliant scholars and individuals to ever open a book or stand at the front of a classroom. When I entered ILR as a Spring transfer student, I was both excited and slightly terrified to find out that I had been placed in Professor Daniel's 20th Century Labor History class. In my case, Prof. Daniel's reputation had preceded him; my close friend and childhood neighbor, who took both semesters of Labor History with Prof. Daniel a few years before I began my undergrad career, had already told me a few things about him. Professor Daniel lived up to every expectation - he was, indeed, one of the "toughest" professors when it came to grading, and his lecture on Henry Clay Frick was one of the most entertaining stories I have ever heard. (For those of you who don't remember, Henry Clay Frick was the capitalist who fought off and nearly killed an assailing anarchist with nothing more than his bare hands, after being shot, stabbed and clubbed multiple times during an attack in his office; Frick went back to work the very next morning with his bandaged wounds and fierce temperament, so that he could continue to oppress and tyrannize his workers. The lesson: capitalists are a tough bunch to beat.) His insistence upon excellence, coupled with his outstanding presence as a lecturer, are what made me wake up extra early on registration day to make sure that I would be able to get into his labor history class for my second semester.
Professor Daniel never missed an opportunity to jokingly and lovingly frighten his students around exam time, with his two favorite lines: "This curriculum is difficult by design" and "Remember, if you score poorly on the upcoming exam, it doesn't mean that you're not a good person and that you won't go on to lead a rich and fulfilling life . . . ." These epic lines of witty encouragement would always be followed by some nervous laughter and a few awkward glances between classmates, but they got the point across - work hard and do your very best. And although there was nothing funny about the huge reading assignments that he assigned on a regular basis, he laughed and seemed proud when I told him that they had turned out to be the perfect training to get me through my first year of law school. (If you could keep up with half of his reading assignments, you could do just about anything!)
After I had taken Professor Daniel's two Labor History classes and had moved on to upper-level courses, I always tried to keep in contact with him as much as I could. His willingness to spend a vast amount of time helping his current students to grasp tricky concepts outside of the classroom showed what a great professor he was; but it was his excitement and sincere interest in keeping up with his former students that showed what a truly great person he was.
I think about Professor Daniel and the lessons that he taught in his lectures quite a bit. I am an active member of the American Federation of Musicians, and also an attorney practicing labor law (among other areas of law). Don't let anybody kid you - having a firm understanding of the history of labor strife always gives you the upper hand; it's pretty hard to rationally argue with policy proposals that are based solidly on historical fact. I wish I had a chance to thank Professor Daniel one last time for all of the useful knowledge that he imparted on me.
The last time I saw Professor Daniel, I visited him in his office in the Fall of 2008. I was waiting for my bar exam results, and I purposely went to visit the school on a Monday so that I could sit in on his lecture. When I told him that I was getting nervous about receiving my bar exam results within the next few weeks, he complimented and reassured me, saying, "I'm sure you don't have to worry, John." Then, in classic Clete Daniel fashion, he smirked and added, "But just remember, if you score poorly on the exam, it doesn't mean that you're not a good person and that you won't go on to lead a rich and fulfilling life . . . ."
- John A. Musacchio, Esq., Class of '05, Albany, NY - Apr 29, 2010
Clete and I started our careers together at ILR in 1973 and our young families shared many good times together. As we all know, Clete was a strong and consistent champion of workers most in need of allies and support. His commitment to the underprivileged was only matched by his dedication to his students. Time after time over the years I've run into ILR graduates who would say "I had Clete Daniel for labor history -- he was the best storyteller I've ever met, and by the way, he taught me a lot about history and why history matters." What more could any of us ask for?
- Tom Kochan, Chestnut Hill, MA - Apr 28, 2010
I came to know Clete during my time in the ILR grad program (1989-1991). My friend, Phil Brown, and I were TAs assigned to Labor History. I drew Nick Salvatore for 2 semesters (which equals 14 books) and Phil was assigned to Clete Daniel. As Clete and Professor Salvatore had offices adjacent to each other I had the good fortune of interacting with Clete from time to time, offsetting my misfortune to never have been in his class. It took approximately 5 minutes into our introduction to learn that Clete possessed a razor-sharp wit and facility to apply it with lightning speed, rightfully earning him legendary status in Ives Hall. However, like most people, my clearest recollection of Clete was that as a man who generously provided all of us access to his most precious resource - his time and sincere attention. It was that quality which made him someone to not only recall with fondness, but also to respect as a true role model. Those who knew him are better for it. He will be missed greatly, but not forgotten.
- Pete Tully, Wheaton, Illinois - Apr 28, 2010
I came to know Professor Daniel through his role as the Director of the Credit Internship Program. I was amazed at his ability to be simultaneously friendly and passionate. He loved the Credit Internship program and the role that it plays in helping ILRies realize and reach their goals. I came to the Credit Internship Program unsure if I wanted to apply, but decided that I would after interviewing with Professor Daniel. I never had the opportunity to know him as a Professor, but if my encounters with him during the Credit Internship application process are any indication, then he was an excellent, energetic and passionate Professor. He was a legendary Professor in the ILR School, as well as in his field and he will be deeply missed by everyone, myself included. My condolences go out to his friends, family, colleagues and to the ILR School in general.
- Natasha Moses, Ithaca, NY - Apr 27, 2010
Professor Daniel was a fantastic teacher, scholar, and mentor. He was my advisor during my undergraduate years at the ILR School while also teaching me about American Labor History during my freshman year. He was an excellent professor in the classroom and always would be helpful to his students, including myself. His teaching skills were fantastic and he was always able to keep you captivated during his lectures with his great sense of humor which made you want to learn more about labor history. He helped instill my interest in labor relations at the ILR School from the beginning of my freshman semester which continues to this day.
In addition, he helped secure an internship for me at the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland for which I am very thankful. I was one of four students who went in the Fall of 2003 as the initial class of the interns to the ILO from the ILR School which Professor Daniel set up for us. Each one of us was very grateful for this opportunity and are still reaping the benefits both personally and professionally. The opportunity gave me a wonderful insight into the vast world of labor rights and regulations, the ILO, and the UN system while giving me the opportunity to live and work in Geneva. Furthermore, he recommended me to law school at the end of my ILR years for which I am greatly thankful and was one of the people who influenced me to apply.
Professor Daniel was an excellent mentor during my ILR years and always wanted to steer me in the right direction both personally and professionally. I owe much of my success to him in both my educational and professional development and will always be grateful to him. Moreover, he was always kind and gracious to me and I am very thankful for our relationship during my time at Cornell. I will greatly miss him.
- Chris Lackert , Washington, D.C. - Apr 27, 2010
Clete was here when I was hired and he was here when I retired. He was one of the first to welcome me to the faculty and he was one of those who attended my farewell retirement party. Over those intervening decades he was one of the kindest persons I have ever known in academia. He always had something nice to say -- even our last conversation on passing in the halls of Ives on April 15th he took the time to stop and to ask how I was doing and to discuss briefly my views on the latest developments with respect to immigration reform.
In his teaching and research, he captured the heart of what the ILR School should always be about: the humanity and the welfare of the American worker. He lived a professional life that impacted all of us who had the privilege to know him. He was one of life's true contributors. My best to his family.
- Vernon Briggs, Ithaca NY - Apr 26, 2010
Clete and I go back many years. He was both a real friend and a very strong supporter of the Catherwood Library. In my role as Collection Development Librarian I sought out his advice on many occasions. He always took the necessary time to freely make excellent suggestions regarding potential purchases for the library collections. Clete seemed to always have a smile on his face. As many others have noted he was a generous, caring and compassionate individual with a real sense of humor. He will be sorely missed.
- Phil Dankert, Ithaca - Apr 26, 2010
When I was applying to transfer to Cornell, I emailed Professor Daniel to ask for some advice. I came down to check out the campus and sat in on one of his classes; he spoke with me after lecture for about half an hour, not only giving me incredible tips for my application, but also words of wisdom about life and how to balance academia with the real world.
He told me that he loves to go to the center of old cities and walk outward, just appreciating the transition of architecture, and its reflection on society's priorities. He recommended Paris in particular. I can't wait to see it.
Professor Daniel was a unique and impressive man, and he will be missed.
- AK, Carl Becker - Apr 25, 2010
Rest in Peace Professor Daniel. Your witty sayings, inspirational quotes, and passion towards United States Labor History and Industrial and Labor Relations in general will be missed. It is a shame future students will not be able to experience your presence in the same way that present and past students, coworkers, and friends have been able to enjoy.
- Dan Cross, Collegetown, Ithaca, NY - Apr 25, 2010
Entering Cornell as a transfer student is a daunting prospect. Place yourself in his class where you have heard the many legends about Professor Daniel and I was quaking in my shoes. I had only heard from the students that did not want to put forth the effort he commanded. Students who were successful under his instruction did not mention how much he cared about his students. I was fortunate enough to find out.
After two semesters of Labor History, I was inspired to brew a beer in his honor, "Clete's Gingered Ale." I used the picture on this page and captioned it, "From the horny fisted sons of toil, arises another brick in the road of debauchery." He may have liked the label more than the beer.
So long, old friend.
- Todd Cranston, Rochester, New York - Apr 25, 2010
Clete always supported ILR Career Services. He would invite Karin Ash (Director) and me to attend his Credit Internship Information Meeting to speak about how well students did in their job search with the experiences they gained through his program. If our day had been a hard one, I knew Clete would have us laughing as soon as we walked in the door. I can honestly say that we in ILR all L-O-V-E-D Clete because he loved the students, the Credit Internship Program and Most impressive: He loved his wife!!! The word among the staff (especially the female members) was what a nice person he was all the time; what a sharp dresser he always was; how good he smelled (he wore the BEST cologne ALWAYS); and how much he loved his wife!!! Just being a nice person alone placed Clete in many hearts, but loving his wife so sincerely put him in ALL of our hearts forever!!! We will truly miss him! (Thank you for the wonderful memories, Clete!)
- Martha Smith, 101 Juniper Drive;Ithaca - Apr 23, 2010
"I know many of you believe that since ILR is a statutory college, you are getting Cornell on the cheap. However, I hold the same standards as any other professor at Cornell and I will not grade you any easier than any other professor at Cornell. This is Cornell University. If you want to go to an easy state school, I'm sure you all would be accepted to SUNY Cortland." (class erupts in laughter)
When I first arrived at the ILR School as an undergrad, like many students I was unsure of the particular direction I wanted to take. Professor Daniel's assignment load did not work to alleviate my uneasiness, trepidation, and (yes) fear. However, by the end of my first semester and Professor Daniel's 19th Century Labor History I knew in my heart that I wanted to help build worker power through the labor movement. His "sermonesque" lectures kept me going during that first year, MWF 0905-0955A after MWF 0905-0955A.
But Professor Daniel was also was an immense help to me personally. He worked hard to secure a credit internship for me at the CNY AFL-CIO, and even negotiated a small weekly stipend on my behalf. He also agreed to be my faculty sponsor for the project. When I became interested in the MILR graduate program, Professor Daniel was more than happy to consult with me and write one of the letters of recommendation. After I completed MILR, he was glad to take my phone calls and offer great advice about my career and my new life in the Seattle area. He went even further than "above and beyond."
Impeccably dressed. Honest, genuine, humble. Hilarious deadpan humor. He had incredible insight and probably the best command of the English language of anyone I have ever come to know. Professor Daniel was a true friend of labor and his memory will continue to be a central source of inspiration throughout my career and personal life.
- Patrick Neville, Bellevue, WA - Apr 23, 2010
My very first college course I took at Cornell as an ILR employee, having been out of high school for over ten years, was Labor History 20th Century taught by Clete. I remember being nervous about taking the class and I decided to go talk to him about my apprehension. He was very supportive, encouraging, and even offered a few of the textbooks for me to borrow. I knew after the first lecture I had made the right choice. He was humorous, compassionate, plus it helped that he looked and smelled good. Being that I did well in that course, I decided the next semester to take the other course Clete taught - Labor History 19th Century - and have continued to take other courses at ILR. I will never forget his smile, the "hello" in the hallway, and his humor. There is a tremendous void in ILR.
- Kathy Roberts, ILR - Dept. of Social Statistics - Apr 23, 2010
Students mattered most to Clete. I appreciated his professionalism and humor. I will remember the affection students had for him.
- Barry A. Taylor, Miami, FL - Apr 23, 2010
While I did not work closely with Clete, what interaction I did have with him over the years will be truly missed. Clete was such a friendly out-going person in his own special way who would always speak and talk with you. Losing him is a very sad loss for the community.
- Colleen Clauson, Alpine, NY - Apr 23, 2010
Clete and I go back more years than either of us ever wanted to - or indeed could - recall. I never stopped admiring his uncanny ability to put that razor-sharp intellect and lightning-quick wit to good use. Time after time, in all kinds of situations, he was the one who always came up with just the right turn of phrase that not only provided the big "aha", but also put things in proper perspective. He cut through pomposity with the precision of a surgeon. Just below the intellect, wit, and carefully cultivated cynicism, however, beat the heart of a truly compassionate human being. Over time, we shared a few triumphs and a lot of laughs, but also a few tears. I cherished the trip and loved the guy and will really miss both.
- Lee Dyer, Ithaca, NY - Apr 23, 2010
Clete was one of the great characters at the ILR School. He was passionate about the school and its students. Once I realized that his sarcastic humor was really an expression of friendship I came to appreciate his warmth and generosity. While saddened by the loss, I can't help but smile when I think of him.
- George Jakubson, Ithaca, NY - Apr 23, 2010
Clete was one of many delightful faculty/staff at ILR. Martha Smith and I so enjoyed his visits to the career services office. He was a friendly, warm and quick-witted presence each and every time we saw him. I also often saw Clete at Ithaca's infamous social networking grocery store -- Wegman's -- and he and I had a long chat there just last Saturday. He filled me in on his wife, his son and his dog -- how he loved his dog that he never wanted in the first place. Clete - so many of us will truly miss you.
- Karin Ash, Ithaca - Apr 23, 2010
I remember once my classmates and I were waiting for our midterm exams to be returned to us. He walked in with a big stack of blue books along with his TA and when he got to the front of the room, he dropped the stack on the table and after the big bang it made, he stated, "I just want you all to know that the class average was a B-, so no more of that 'D minus Daniel' crap!" LOL!
I didn't do as well in Professor Daniel's class as I would have liked, but I thoroughly enjoyed the class nonetheless and learned more than I have in so many other classes I have taken. He was an incredible lecturer which made me look forward to each class. He will be greatly missed! I would love to have taken another course from him.
- John Carlos Metidieri, Rochester, NY - Apr 22, 2010
Professor Daniel understood the struggles of the labor world and has genuinely contributed to the efforts of relieving these struggles by educating students. He was a great teacher because he knew exactly how to teach. His incredible understanding about the daily lives of students and life at Cornell made him a paramount educator in his field. You will be missed.
- Christopher Kim - Apr 22, 2010
Labor History is the only class I never missed. You quickly became my favorite professor and I wish I had the chance to be your student again.
- Alana Reid - Apr 22, 2010
Professor Daniel was able to take what would otherwise be an extremely mundane and esoteric historical topic in labor history and explain how it impacted the lives of every American. If it were not for his great and extremely entertaining teaching ability, many students would never fully understand how organized workers shaped the contemporary United States and secured many institutions that students at a school like Cornell likely take for granted. It is a rare occurrence that a professor has such an ability to touch his students' thoughts and lives.
- Peter Bouris, 218C Carl Becker House - Apr 22, 2010
Thanks for pushing all students to take trips aboard. You offered one of the most valuable experiences at Cornell and you will be missed but never forgotten.
- Lex D. Muir, New York City - Apr 22, 2010
Professor Daniel was such an exceptional teacher because he knew how to make labor history into a story that kept you on the edge of your seat. Even when discussing minor details about New Deal legislation, he kept the class engaged and always laughing. Professor Daniel had one of the sharpest wits that I have ever had the pleasure of encountering in my years at ILR. Professor Daniel and his family will be in my thoughts and prayers as we all cope with this difficult loss. He was a great man, and he will definitely be missed in the ILR community.
- Emily Cusick, Clifton Park, NY - Apr 22, 2010
Clete will be missed by so many of us who were inspired by his teaching and scholarship. This is a sad loss for our community.
- Jeff Grabelsky - Apr 22, 2010
I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Professor Clete Daniel's death on Sunday. I was a student in his Spring 1995 US Labor History class, a requirement at the time for MILR students. At that point in my education, I was quite certain that I would have a career doing progressive work on labor and employment policy. But, I hadn't really thought all that much about working for the labor movement. With his wonderfully dry sense of humor, Professor Daniel made history come alive, bringing to life the sacrifices and struggles that workers made and faced to improve conditions on the job.
I was fortunate to be offered the chance to be his TA for the 1995-1996 school year. It was a 40 hour a week job, with reading the 10+ books that the students read, planning weekly lessons, conducting office hours, grading papers and exams - on top of the classes I took as a student. At the time, I used to joke with Professor Daniel that his TAs were overworked and underpaid - but the reality is that working with Professor Daniel as his TA was the best part of my education at Cornell's ILR school. He was a wonderful mentor who encouraged me to work for labor and did everything he could to help me get my foot into the labor movement.
I last saw Professor Daniel in November 2009. My former fellow TA Sharon and I visited Ithaca for a weekend, and got to visit with Professor Daniel for an hour in his office. We talked about the 2008 election, the state of organized labor and politics - and we also talked about his grandchildren, and my two kids and Sharon's children. A few years ago, he asked me why I didn't call him "Clete" - I always called him Professor Daniel. He said "is it because I'm old?" I laughed and said no, of course not, and promised to call him Clete. So - to Clete - you were a wonderful teacher and mentor, and you will be missed.
- Christine Silvia-DeGennaro - Apr 22, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my favorite professors when I was in the MILR program in '94-'96. He gave me my worst grade during my time at Cornell, and even during my undergrad years, but I earned it. He had a great sense of humor and an ability to bring history alive in the classroom. Although it does not come close to the loss his family has suffered, his passing is a significant loss to the Cornell community.
- Ted Harding - Apr 22, 2010
I had Professor Daniel my freshman year at ILR in 1979 and will always remember him as one of my best professors. I am so glad that I had a chance to talk to him in his office when I returned for my 30th reunion in June, 2008. He seemed to have really loved teaching at Cornell and was looking forward to continuing his work for ILR. This is a very sad time for Cornell and all those who had the privilege of knowing him.
- Bill Wildman - Apr 22, 2010
I too was a TA for Clete many years ago. He is unquestionably one of my brightest memories from ILR. On more occasions than I recall, I was reduced to tears from laughing in his office. While many of my classmates didn't care for taking Labor History, none spoke negatively of Clete. In the 20 years since leaving ILR, I would call Clete from time-to-time to chat. I realize now that I didn't do so often enough. His passing is a tremendous loss for the ILR community and me personally.
- Phil Brown - Apr 22, 2010
I t.a.'d for Clete many, many years ago. He was a wonderful teacher and a terrific, funny guy. I was shocked and very saddened to hear about his death. He would probably be surprised at the number of people who remember him so fondly and who are grieving his death today.
- Mary Lehman - Apr 22, 2010
Professor Daniel was one of my first professors at Cornell. I remember being told horror stories about labor history and "D-minus Daniel". Not knowing what to expect for our first prelim, I studied for 5-6 hours everyday for two weeks. When the day finally came, writing the essays nearly incapacitated my right hand. I had filled three blue books with material I had learned over the few weeks prior. After the exam, I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I slept for 17 hours a day for two weeks. I would go to every class but sleep 12 hours at night and 5 hours during the day. That's probably the most vivid memory of all my academic experiences at Cornell. Professor Daniel's course was one of my first steps in developing a good work ethic.
I deeply appreciated Professor Daniel's lectures. He captivated his students in lectures and articulated the drama of the labor movement, highlighting the fruits it bore for the people of this country. He was a great storyteller.
Through Professor Daniel, I also had the chance to work and live in Geneva, Switzerland for a semester. I gleaned much from the internship - professionally and personally. It is by the means of the hard work and care of people like Professor Daniel that others like myself can benefit and grow. I'm grateful for having learned under his care and will be praying for his family.
PS - I got an A- in labor history. Daniel was fair - D-minuses were for slackers.
- Grace Chung, Queens, NY - Apr 22, 2010
Clete was easy to admire for his captivating speaking style which highlighted a robust vocabulary and always included just the right amount of sarcasm/humor to keep one entertained. His dedication to the credit internship program and the opportunities he helped establish for ILR students through that office are appreciated by many. He will certainly be missed.
- Kevin Harris, ILR Office of Student Services - Apr 22, 2010
I have many fond memories of Clete during my eight years in the ILR School. I remember sitting in numerous meetings and lunches with credit internship companies as Clete passionately explained the value of the program for both the students and the sponsors, and inevitably tried to convince the companies to take on more students. I remember the support and encouragement that Clete offered while I was a junior faculty member. And, I remember the countless passings in the hallways of Ives or around town. Clete was a caring person with a great sense of humor, and I will miss him very much.
- Brad Bell, Ithaca, NY - Apr 22, 2010
I always remember Clete with a smile. I'm sure he had some bad days, but I never saw him look anything but happy to be doing what he was doing. He contributed greatly to hundreds, if not thousands, of undergraduates over the years, and those contributions are part of what makes ILR so unique.
- Patrick Wright, Ithaca - Apr 22, 2010
I was so saddened to hear of Clete's sudden passing. Although I had little to do with Clete on a professional level, we occasionally interacted on a personal level within ILR. One of the things that sticks out most in my mind with Clete was when the Fiscal Office moved to the Research Building (one of our many moves). Pam Jenkins-Smiley was having difficulty with an extension cord, and needed a partition moved. Clete happened by and got on his hands and knees and helped Pam move the partition. As was often the case, he was impeccably dressed, however never hesitated to help out. The ILR School has suffered a great loss.
- Barb McPherson, North Carolina - Apr 22, 2010
Clete was a respected scholar and a highly regarded, indeed, beloved teacher. He is missed already.
- Michael Gold, Ithaca - Apr 22, 2010