SUNY Potsdam Remembers Legacy of Clayton Horan, Emeritus Associate Professor of Drama


The SUNY Potsdam community is mourning the loss of Emeritus Associate Professor of Drama Clayton Horan, who for many years led the College’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He died on Aug. 11 at the age of 73.

The College will long remember the life and legacy of Clayton Horan, a dedicated professor and friend. Faculty, staff and alumni are expected to attend his memorial service on Friday, Aug. 27.

Born March 18, 1937 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., he was the son of the late Clayton T. and Irene Swart Horan. Clayton grew up in Warwick, N.Y., attended Orange County Community College in Middletown, N.Y., and earned an associate’s degree in engineering/electrical technology before serving in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1962. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in general studies with an architecture emphasis and a master’s degree in theatre and speech at Montana State University, as well as completing a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in design and technical theatre from the University of Montana.

As a professor, Horan dedicated some 30 years of his life to educational theatre, working as set and lighting designer, technical director and stage director at Dickinson State University and Minot State College in North Dakota, and at SUNY Potsdam, where he taught for 23 years.

The associate professor was considered by many to be the backbone of the SUNY Potsdam’s Dance and Drama Department, as it was then known. As the co-chair of the department, he taught technical theatre, the history of drama, directing, make-up, costume design and play analysis. He was known for his playfulness, love of language and Irish wit.

Horan loved his work. He once said, “I can look back on the great cast and crews we’ve trained, the mind-expanding necessity to come together with bright, talented, dedicated people, students and faculty. It is a high like no other.”

He retired in December 2001.

“We owe Clayt so much for keeping on keeping on while the vultures were circling, for doing his best to teach and direct a program that was not regarded with the respect that it deserved,” said Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Galen K. Pletcher. “I will always think of Clayton Horan as the anchor that kept the College from losing two of its strongest programs.”

Clayton is survived by his wife of 34 years, Nancy Burckhard Horan, Potsdam; a daughter, Dakotah, Albany, N.Y.; a brother David B., and his wife Janet, of Tenafly, N.J., and many nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27, in the chapel at the United Helpers Maplewood Campus, Canton, followed by a memorial service at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Clayton Horan Fitness Center at Maplewood, c/o United Helpers, 732 Ford Street, Ogdensburg, NY 13669 and to Hospice and Palliative Care of the St. Lawrence Valley, 6805 US Hwy 11, Potsdam, New York 13676.

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 100 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training, and leadership in the performing and visual arts.