Posted by: pointlenana | December 27, 2017

Donald Cliggett – 1925-2017

This will get published somewhere official in the near future, but saving my sister’s beautiful obituary for my dad so I can always find it.

LEXINGTON- Donald P. Cliggett, Ph.D, 92, husband of the late Kathleen Haug Cliggett, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 8, 1925 to the late Birger and Marit (Anderson) Glittenberg (both of Norway). At age three Don lost his birth parents and brother Eugene. He was subsequently adopted by Patrick Henry and Sarah Clemens Cliggett, who also adopted another boy, George. His two older natal brothers, Helmer and Clemet Glittenberg, were raised in the Norwegian Children’s Home, Brooklyn. Luckily, his adoptive parents invited Helmer and Clem to the Cliggett home for Sunday meals throughout Don’s childhood, ensuring the boys remained in contact during their youth.

Don’s childhood in Brooklyn was filled with mischief, adventure and fun – themes that ran throughout his life.  As a boy, Don explored far and wide across Brooklyn by bike, played stickball in the streets, took great pleasure in detaching the power connectors on streetcars and jumping the turnstiles for the local trains. When his adoptive father died and his mother began working nights as a nurse, Don, age 13, snuck out bedroom windows and down gutters for nighttime adventures. It was also at this time that his mother learned to drive and took her sons on summer trips to visit relatives in Ohio, Chicago and New Mexico. According to family lore, his mother had run off to join the circus when she was younger – impressing her family with her snake handling and horse riding skills. Her zest for life was certainly the foundation of Don’s approach to the world.

Upon graduation from high school in 1943, Don enlisted in the Army Air Core. It was during basic training in North Carolina when he found himself standing in line with his brother Clem, and reconnected with his Glittenberg brothers – a connection that remained until their deaths in 2005.

When WWII ended, Don used the GI Bill to attend the University of New Mexico – chosen because of his fond memories of summers riding horses with his mother’s relatives.  He completed his PhD in psychology at NYU in 1957, having spent three years at the Menninger Foundation for Psychoanalytic training, in Topeka Kansas.  It was in Topeka where Don and Kathleen – a nurse in training – met, and married in 1954. The newlyweds moved back to New York City so that Don could finish his degree, while Kathleen worked as a nurse.  They had two children – Mark (born 1962) and Lisa (born 1965), and soon after the second birth, undertook another family adventure: moving to the San Francisco area where Don joined the dynamic psychoanalytic professional community at Mt. Zion Hospital. The Cliggetts called Marin County, CA home from 1965 until Don’s retirement in 1998. During those 33 years, Don brought a joy of life and optimism to his family, colleagues, and friends, seemingly unbounded by any notions of limits or expectations. He believed in pursuing passions and curiosity, giving and service, and at his core, in the social foundations and meaningful connections of our lives.

Don loved travel, learning, the New York Times and New Yorker, and being active. Even in his later years, Don resisted boundaries of age. He rode bikes around Marin’s hilly landscape and played tennis into his late 60s. At age 73 he moved with Kathleen to Seattle to be close to their grandsons.  After the loss of Kathleen in 2000, Don turned to his innate curiosity of the world for comfort, and became a student at the University of Washington as an “Osher Life Long Learner,” taking courses in anthropology, history, politics and religion, and making new friends. Much later, as signs of dementia began to emerge, Don remained full of life and optimism, assuring his family that he was happy and going to be fine, and persisting in seizing each moment of joy he could. In 2016 Don moved from Seattle to Lexington KY to be closer to his daughter, and to benefit from the “Best Friend’s Approach” to dementia care – a move that allowed him to remain active and socially engaged in his final years.

He is preceded in death by natal brothers Helmer Glittenberg (Fairfax, VA) and Clemet Glittenberg (Dyer, Indiana), and adoptive brother George Cliggett (Sante Fe, New Mexico). He is survived by his daughter, Lisa (Charles Hite) Cliggett, Lexington; his son, Mark (Janet Vogelzang) Cliggett, Seattle WA and his grandsons, Will and Wyatt.    Private services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.



  1. I’m so terribly sorry, my friend.

  2. mark: i much belated response to your post, but what a wonderful recounting of your father’s life. sorry for your loss, but grateful that you posted this.

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