John Livingstone Clendenin

May 8, 1934February 25, 2020

John L. Clendenin, age 85, of Winston, GA, formerly of Atlanta and West Palm Beach, FL passed away peacefully on February 25, 2020 surrounded by family after an extended illness. John was born on May 8, 1934 in EI Paso, TX where he was raised by the late Thomas P. and Maybelle Clendenin. He graduated high school in 1951 and attended Swarthmore College before transferring to Northwestern University where he graduated with honors. It was during this time that he married his high school sweetheart Ann Matthews, and began their wonderful journey together. After college, John served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command before beginning his telephone career. John worked for Illinois Bell Telephone Company early in his career, moving his family frequently as he was transferred around the state. He subsequently moved to Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company in Seattle and to AT&T in Basking Ridge, NJ before serving as president of Southern Bell Telephone Company in Atlanta. He was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Bellsouth Corporation in 1984 where he served until 1996.

John served on numerous corporate boards including Home Depot, the Kroger Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., Equifax, Powerwave Technologies, and Acuity Brands.

John was also past chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Alliance of Business and was National Chairman of Junior Achievement. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross and the National Board of Directors of United Way and served as a board member and officer of a number of other civic, educational and cultural organizations.

Although John was an extremely successful businessman, his family was top priority, always. John was a caring, generous husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. John was preceded in death by his "Annie" who he loved dearly. John is survived by three daughters, Betsy (Bill), Linda (Jim), Kay, and son Tom (Carrie). He has 13 grandchildren who know him as "Papaw"; Jenny (Clay), John (Stacy), Wes, Ashley, Taylor, Zach, Abby, Annie, Nick, Jessica (Brett), Josh (Jobria), John Thomas, and Campbell. John also has 14 great grandchildren.

The family will celebrate John's life in a private memorial service with burial at Arlington Memorial Park, Atlanta with Dr. George Wirth presiding. John was a member of First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA.

For those who wish, donations may be made in John's memory to the American Red Cross, PO Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037.

The family wishes to express their deepest appreciation to Deborah Johnson and the team of caregivers who lovingly cared for their Dad and Papaw for the past six years.


  • John is survived by three daughters, Betsy (Bill), Linda (Jim), Kay, and son Tom (Carrie). He has 13 grandchildren who know him as "Papaw"; Jenny (Clay), John (Stacy), Wes, Ashley, Taylor, Zach, Abby, Annie, Nick, Jessica (Brett), Josh (Jobria), John Thomas, and Campbell. John also has 14 great grandchildren.

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  • The family will hold private services.

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Helen Cauley

March 2, 2020

Dear Kay, Tom and siblings,
I was so sad to read of your father's passing. Please accept my deepest sympathies.
Even though I only met him once, rarely does a day go by when his impact is not present in my life. Through his extreme generosity, the graduate scholarship he funded at Kennesaw State put me on a track I could not have foreseen. I was at a crossroads in my career when I decided to go back to school, which turned out to be the same year your family launched the program. Without that support, I doubt I would have had the resources to finish my degree. But the positive experiences that scholarship opened for me led me to continue, and I earned my Ph.D. at Georgia State in 2017. I now am a GSU instructor, where I stand in front of so many struggling students who did not have the exceptional advantage your father provided for me. While I may never be able to equal his generosity, I do carry his commitment to education to the next generation.
Helen Cauley
KSU Clendenin Fellow 2009-2011

carol tome

February 28, 2020

To the family of John Clendenin. I was the CFO for Home Depot when your Dad/PawPaw was on our board of directors. I always admired John for his business smarts but also for his grace. He chaired my audit committee. When our meetings went long he would say...”moving along” and we would get back to the point. He had a wonderful way of managing difficult situations. I learned so much from him. I’m sorry for your loss and just wanted you to know that your father had a big impact on my life. In sympathy. Carol Tome


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