Paul Miles Clikeman
Born: July 24, 1960
Died: November 19, 2020
Married: June 9, 1991 to Margaret (Stelzer)
Children: John (’93), Kathryn (’95), and Miles (’97)
Paul was born in Ames, Iowa, on July 24, 1960, to Dr. Franklyn and Janice Clikeman. He was their firstborn, and what a handsome fellow he was. His photo nearly won a “cutest baby” contest. His only sibling, sister Mary, still calls him “her hero”. His mom was a librarian and skilled homemaker. His dad was a professor of Nuclear Engineering at MIT in Boston, and then at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. His father made a lasting impact on Paul, and ultimately the life of an academic was the path Paul chose after being a public accountant with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells in Chicago for three years.
Paul attended Valparaiso University and played saxophone in the marching band. He joined Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity and became its president his senior year. His love of music lasted throughout his life. While he lived in downtown Chicago, he played recorder duets with his fraternity brother, Dennis. He learned to play the hammered dulcimer soon after his marriage to Margaret (Stelzer) in 1991, whom he met in a church singles group back in Valparaiso. His lilting Irish tunes and hymn arrangements blessed their home with peaceful songs. Paul was most proud of his children’s musical accomplishments and encouraged them to cultivate their gifts, from Kindermusik and Suzuki lessons to Lambs of God choir to organ, violin, and voice recitals. One of the highlights of his life was accompanying his daughter Kathryn on three Irish songs at her Senior Recital at the University of Richmond in 2017.
Spending his early formative years in Boston, Paul learned to love the Red Sox; his first aspiration was to be a professional baseball player. He was proud to have pitched his high school baseball team’s first winning game one season. He played church softball as an adult until a broken arm caused him to wisely choose less risky sports, in true accountant fashion. He bowled with many of his UR Business School colleagues on Friday nights for many years, and even on occasion won “The Belt” for highest score. He avidly followed Miles’ stats in Cross Country and Track, and even happily attended John’s college Quidditch Club matches. A typical Sunday afternoon found him watching pro tennis, golf, or NFL games, so he could then relate the memorable plays to his sons in their phone conversations. He could still outdo his sons in Mini-Golf, pool, and cul-de-sac Frisbee Golf.
Paul was a contemplative person who loved to read books of all sorts, often recommended to him by his friend and colleague, Joe Hoyle. His favorite vacation activity was sitting by the lake in Minnesota at his uncle and cousins’ Two Inlets Resort, a frequent family destination. On a Stelzer cousins’ cruise to Alaska last summer with Margaret, and on a family trip to Greece and the Greek Isles in 2009, he relished sitting on the deck of the ship or near a window with his book or watching the scenery. He did not, however, need to go far from home to be content; he was just as happy, probably more so, simply sitting on our back porch with his newspaper and puzzles.
As a dad, Paul could not have been more influential and thoughtful. He sang lullabies to his children John, Kathryn, and Miles, and composed dulcimer music in their honor. He read books on the bed with his young children around him or told them stories he made up about “Sheriff John”, “Deputy Kate”, or “Farmer Miles”. They conquered villains who always had to go to jail “until they learned to be nice.” He played Barbies on the floor with his daughter while making up scenarios to navigate, while his Barbie exclaimed, “How am I supposed to walk around in these high heels?!” Paul supported Margaret’s idea to homeschool the children in their early years, and later said, “It’s the best decision we ever made.” He would stay home with them on Wednesday mornings to teach them (and give Margaret a break), making up “Dad’s Diabolically Difficult Math Problems”, listening to them read, or giving them an audience for their writing. He took each child to breakfast on alternating weeks at a place of their choice, a tradition he carried on when they all attended the University of Richmond.
Paul announced upon his arrival after work, “Dad’s home! Let the party begin!” He showed his love for his family in ways large and small. He raked a leaf mountain at the top of the driveway and claimed it to be his “Taj Mahal” of love to Margaret. He would do small acts of service and remind her, “This is one of the many, many ways I show you that I love you.” He prioritized family meals and adroitly commented, “I’ll eat that,” to whatever Margaret would fix. His topping of choice on all soup was Cheez-Its. Culinarily he was not picky; his favorite restaurant from high school on was Taco Bell. Each anniversary, Paul and Margaret would dine at Taco Bell to commemorate their first meal as a married couple, two hours after their wedding reception. He found a compatriot at UR in Joe Hoyle, with whom he shared lunch once a week for 25 years (frequently at Taco Bell).
Paul had a strong moral compass and work ethic. He served on the Board of Directors at Redeemer Lutheran Church and sang in its choir. His family Christmas letters invariably began with a simple, direct statement of his faith: “Greetings in the name of Jesus who was born on Christmas and who died so we can live forever.” He strove to be the best at his vocation while never losing sight of what was most important: “Love your students.” His impact on his students and friends was profound and long-lasting, as shown by the outpouring of grief at his sudden passing.
Paul gave the following charge to his senior Auditing students, upon their graduation:
‘Barry Minkow, as you’ll recall, founded his own carpet-cleaning company (ZZZZ Best) when he was only 16 years old. Reportedly, his goal was to earn enough money to buy a cool enough car to impress a certain high school cheerleader. He also began taking steroids to improve his physique.
‘By his 21st birthday, Barry was living with his girlfriend in a $700,000 house and driving a red Ferrari. He had been praised in countless newspaper articles and had appeared as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show. His stock holdings were worth $100 million. But two years later, Minkow was penniless, imprisoned, and suffering the effects of his past drug use.
‘The obvious lesson from Minkow’s life is to be careful what means you use to pursue your goals. Don’t use drugs as a shortcut to happiness. Don’t use fraud or other improper behavior to achieve wealth. A far more profound lesson is to select your goals wisely. Minkow pursued strength instead of health. He pursued sex instead of a committed companionship. He pursued wealth instead of purpose.
‘I hope each of you achieves your share of professional and financial success. But I also pray you will seek and find things that are far more important – loyal friends, a faithful spouse/companion, and faith in an eternal God who will sustain you through life’s inevitable problems.’
Paul lived simply and well. He will be greatly missed on earth, but we look forward to our heavenly reunion.