Clifton Samuel Mereday, a Korean War veteran and former physical therapy department chairman at Stony Brook University, died Feb. 8 in Dover, New Jersey.
He had heart and kidney failure, and anemia, his family said. He was 90.
Mereday was born in Aiken, South Carolina, raised Baptist, and grew up in Hempstead Village. Mereday’s sister Shirley Mereday Haulsey said her brother had a picturesque childhood.
“Clift was always smiling, wide-grinned, always, whenever you saw him, morning, noon, and night,” she said.
In fact, all of Mereday’s six siblings said he was the golden child their father favored most. Mereday was always someone who had a positive outlook on life, they said.
“I don’t ever remember seeing him angry, like ever,” said Mereday’s sister Evelyn, of Jamaica, Queens.
Haulsey said her brother did well in grade school, excelling in track and field as well as academics. He even built a makeshift pole-vaulting court at home, Haulsey said.
“It was really high and every afternoon he’d be in the backyard on that pole vault,” said Haulsey, of Washington, D.C.
Mereday graduated from Hempstead High School in 1948 and was drafted into the Army. He fought in the Korean War for 18 months and was discharged in 1952. He immediately enrolled at Ithaca College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy in 1956.
He also received a bachelor’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics from New York University in 1972, a master’s in education from CUNY in 1976, and a doctorate from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati in 1987.
While living in Ithaca, Mereday met a young woman named Kimberly Theresa Randle, who was from Louisiana.
Kimberly and Mereday wed in September 1957. The couple had three sons, Mark of Albany, Michael of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and Clifton Jr. of Readington, New Jersey.
Clifton Jr. said he will miss his father’s “constant guidance and wisdom.”
While raising his sons, Mereday worked as a professor in Stony Brook University’s physical therapy department. Mereday was a professor from 1972 to 1987, when he became department chair and held that title until he retired to the Poconos in Pennsylvania in 1995.
The physical therapy faculty posted a lengthy tribute to their former colleague on their Facebook page.
“Clift was a superb human being, master clinician, a gifted teacher and a beloved friend,” wrote Janice Sniffen, the department’s academic administration director. “We would all do well to follow his example of a life well lived.”
Mereday also is survived by another sister, Ruby Hicks of West Palm Beach, Florida.
A wake was held Feb. 16 at Carl C. Burnett Funeral Home in Hempstead. The funeral was held Feb. 17 at Antioch Baptist Church in Hempstead, followed by burial at Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn.