Obituary for Cletus M Stutzman
Cletus M. Stutzman
December 3, 1934 – February 2, 2018
Cletus M. Stutzman, 83, of Eustis, Florida, a much-loved educator, preacher, coach and family man, passed away Friday, February 2, 2018, at home.
A Celebration of Life service is planned for Saturday, February 10, at the Brackett Gymnasium at Mount Dora Christian Academy. The family will receive guests from 1:30 – 3 p.m., with the memorial service at 3 p.m. Graveside services will follow for family and close friends.
Cletus was born on December 3, 1934, in Kent, Ohio, to the late Perl Stutzman and Erma Stutzman. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Carolyn Chastain Stutzman. Cletus and Carolyn met as high school students at Christian Home & Bible School, now Mount Dora Christian Academy, where they later returned and spent their entire careers in Christian education.
Cletus and Carolyn have three children, all of whom reside in Eustis, Florida: Chris Stutzman and his wife Karen; Cleta Horton and her husband Doug; and Laura Sexton and her husband Ronnie. Cletus was preceded in death by an infant son, Gerald Stutzman, and a foster son, James Wert whose wife Jeanie, lives in Ocoee, Florida. They have six grandchildren, Hunter Sexton, Parker Sexton, Lacey Sexton, Dakotah Horton, Sydney Horton and Mackenzie Horton, all of Eustis, Florida; two step-grandchildren, David Jones and Rita Rodriguez; plus seven step great grandchildren and six step great, great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Mervin Stutzman, and is survived by three sisters: Shelby Albridge, of Leesburg, Florida; Darlene Hart, of Glen Burnie, Maryland; and Marlene Taylor, of Ellicott, Maryland.
Christian Home & Bible School, known affectionately as CH&BS, played a major role in Cletus’ life and he in turn played a prominent role in the development and growth of the school and children’s home. As the story goes, he was first introduced to the school by accident, or perhaps divine providence. His parents moved to Zellwood, Florida, near Mount Dora, in time for Cletus to start seventh grade. He was told to wait for the school bus, intending to go to a public school, but when he jumped on the first bus that came by, he wound up at CH&BS instead. He liked the school so much that he convinced his parents to let him stay. As his good friend Dr. James Moore, now president of Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children’s Home, would say later when sharing this story, “Cletus didn’t get on the wrong bus that morning; he got on the right bus.”
After graduating from high school at CH&BS in 1952, Cletus earned an associate’s degree from Alabama Christian College in 1954, a bachelor’s degree from David Lipscomb College in 1957, a master’s degree from Stetson University in 1964, and an Ed.S degree from Rollins College in 1981.
Newly married, Cletus came to work for CH&BS in 1954, after completing his studies at Alabama Christian College, and with the exception of one year away for furthering his education, he never left, with his association with the school spanning more than 60 years. He wore many hats there, including teacher, coach, guidance counselor, athletic director, vice president, executive vice president, president, and senior consultant.
He served as President from 1980 to 1990, resigning then only due to health problems from Parkinson’s disease. His accomplishments during his decade as President were many, including major renovations to the Burton Parrish Administration Building, construction of Lugar Cottage, strengthening the track and cross-country sports programs, and opening the first Variety Shoppe.
Cletus excelled both in the classroom and as a coach at CH&BS. He was respected as an excellent teacher and student of the Bible. Cletus loved Dr. Seuss books, and often shared with students his favorite Dr. Seuss story, “Ode to the Zode.” He also loved sports and was a passionate coach with a winning record. Although known generally as a gentle, reserved and kind spirit, he could get very animated on the court, but his boys loved him and always knew that he loved them. His boys’ basketball team won the state championship in 1961. He was later inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
When not in the classroom, on the courts or serving in an administrative role, Cletus might be found cooking chicken for the popular Chicken Suppers at CH&BS, a long tradition that continues to this day. He preached at numerous Florida churches, including Orange Avenue Church of Christ in Eustis, Mount Dora Church of Christ, Apopka Church of Christ, Plymouth Church of Christ, and South Seminole Church of Christ in Winter Park. He enjoyed golf, reading and writing, and was the author of two books, “A Call for Abundant Living,” and “Whispering Pines,” which commemorated the 50-year anniversary of CH&BS in 1995.
Cletus also served on the Board of Trustees for Central Florida Bible Camp and for the National Christian School Association, where he served as Chairman of the Board.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Cletus Stutzman Scholarship Fund at Mount Dora Christian Academy. Donations should be made payable to Mount Dora Christian Academy and mailed to Development Office, Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children's Home, 301 West 13th Ave, Mount Dora, FL 32757.
The Allen J. Harden Funeral Home, 1800 N. Donnelly Street in Mount Dora, Florida, is in charge of funeral arrangements.