Clifford Blenn Tatham was a passionate follower of Christ, and he was welcomed home to spend eternity with his Lord and Savior on March 3, 2017.
Cliff was born on Labor Day (September 5), 1932, in Pittsburg, Kansas. He was the eldest of James R. and Bonnie L. Tatham’s five children. He grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where he graduated from University High School. Following high school, he served as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy from 1952-1956 and was a veteran of the Korean War.
Upon completion of his military service, Cliff returned to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas where he was a charter member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. He helped pay for college by working as a photographer, which is how he met his future wife, Elaine, when she walked into his studio to have her picture taken one day.
Cliff earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas before moving to Hawaii with Elaine in the fall of 1960. Cliff worked as the Staff Psychometrist at the University of Hawaii’s Counseling & Testing Center while simultaneously earning a Master’s degree in Psychology. Cliff eventually went on to earn a Specialist in Education degree (Ed.S.) from the University of Kansas.
Cliff’s career as an educator began in the fall of 1964 when he took a position on the staff of the Dean of Students and a position as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. His daughter, Eirene, was born while he was living in Indiana in 1965. After two years in Indiana, Cliff took another job as an Assistant Professor of Psychology and as College Examiner at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, where his son, Chris, was born in 1967.
After a career as a university educator, Cliff launched a successful career in the field of market research. He was a Research and Evaluation Specialist with Mid Continent Regional Educational Laboratory, a predecessor of the National Institute of Education. He was Research Coordinator for Research Medical Center’s School of Nursing. He eventually took a position as Senior Vice President at Customer Satisfaction Research Institute (CSRI), where he specialized in customer satisfaction research for corporate mainframe computer customers. Cliff enjoyed traveling, and he was able to visit more than 30 countries throughout Europe, the Western Hemisphere, and the Pacific Rim during his career. He concluded his career working alongside his wife, Elaine, at ETC Institute where he retired as CEO in 1996.
Cliff actively served his community throughout his life. While living in Ottawa he served as part of the “Ottawaters”, which was a volunteer group that monitored local Citizen Band radio transmissions and responded to people in crisis. Shortly after moving to Olathe in 1972, Cliff became very involved in the Parent-Teachers Organization (PTO) at Northview elementary school, where he served as PTO president.
Although Cliff was engaged in many community activities, he was, perhaps, proudest of his service to the Olathe Public Library. He served as a member of the Olathe Public Library Board of Directors for 8 years, including a term as President when the Olathe’s Indian Creek Branch was constructed. Cliff and his wife, Elaine, founded the Olathe Public Library Foundation, and Cliff served as chair of the foundation for many years. Cliff was also the recipient of the John T. Barton Award from the City of Olathe for his service to the community.
Cliff spent more than 40 years as a Master Mason. He was a member of Olathe Lodge #19 where he served in a variety of roles, including two terms as Worshipful Master and several years as President of the Board of Trustees. He was named “Outstanding Olathe Mason” in 1979. He was also a member of the Olathe Chapter No.10 Royal Arch Masons, Olathe Council No.11 Cryptic Masons, Olathe Commandery No.39 Knights Templar, Order of High Priesthood, Thrice Illustrious Masters, Kansas Association of Past Commanders, Kansas York Rite College No. 125, All Saints Tabernacle Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priest, and Kansas Priory No.33 Knights York Cross of Honor. Cliff was a Past District Deputy Grand Master and Past District Deputy Grand High Priest. In 1996 he served as Grand Treasurer for the Kansas York Rite Bodies. Cliff received the Royal Arch Distinguish Service Bronze Metal in 1999. He was Past Illustrious Master of Olathe Council Cryptic Masons in 1975, Past High Priest of Olathe Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in 1975, and Past Commander of Olathe Commandery of Knights Templar in 1976. He was Sovereign in 1995 of St. Justin Conclave of the Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine. Some of his fondest memories of his years in Masonry came from his years as Chapter Advisor for the Olathe Chapter of DeMolay, where he mentored more than 100 boys between 1980 and 1986. In 1983, He was given the “Leather Apron” when the Olathe Chapter he was advising was selected as the “DeMolay Chapter of the Year” for the State of Kansas. Before stepping down as Chapter Advisor, Cliff was recognized by The Order of DeMolay with the Honorary Legion of Honor, which is one of the highest honor bestowed by the Order of DeMolay.
Although Clifford spent the last 21 years of his life suffering from a series of severe, chronic health conditions, you would not have known it by the way he spoke and lived. The final years of his life were filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Cliff was baptized at age 82, and he completed a discipleship course at age 84. He continued to passionately share his faith and the hope of Christ with everyone he met until he took his last breath in this world.
Cliff leaves his bride of nearly 57 years, Elaine L. Tatham, his daughter, Eirene and husband Hayden Knott, and son, Christopher and wife Elizabeth Tatham and grandchildren Colton and wife Kristen Tatham, Erica and husband Matthew McIntyre, Nathan and wife Hannah Shipley, Emily Tatham, Christian Tatham and step grandchildren Kayla and Brandon Oliphant.
There will be a visitation for Clifford’s family on Tuesday, March 7th from 5-7 pm at Olathe Bible Church. The funeral service to celebrate the life of this loving husband, father, and grandfather will be at Olathe Bible Church 13700 W. 151st Street in Olathe, KS on Wednesday, March 8th at 10 am. The family suggests contributions to Olathe Medical Center’s Charitable Foundation, the Olathe Public Library Foundation, or Olathe Bible Church.
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