Harris Clemes Tribute

Aug 6, 2021 | 9 comments

Photo: Harris Clemes “hiking in the high country that he loved.”



Harris Clemes, age 91 (1929-2021), passed away Thursday, July 29, 2021, peacefully in Portland, Oregon.

Harris was born on September 29, 1929, in Mussoorie, India to the late Stanley and Julia Clemes. He was the third child of four, all preceded him in death.

As a Methodist missionary son, he was raised in India where he attended a boarding school in the jungles and foothills of the Himalayan mountains until the age of 16, when the family moved to the United States. He later served in the army as a counterintelligence officer in France. Harris received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and a PhD in psychology from Stanford. He had a successful private practice mostly in the San Francisco bay area. He later started APOD, The Association for Personal and Organizational Development, which focused on using psychotherapy and psychodrama in a gentler approach to personal growth, and helping school systems become more humanistic in the approaches to education.

Harris’s talents were many. He was an accomplished tennis pro. He led his family and friends on multiple backpacking trips across the High Sierra mountains. He was a beloved & caring father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, as well as a beloved and influential person within the Subud spiritual community in Santa Cruz, Portland, and across the world.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Maya; two sons, Patrick and Jeff; five grandchildren: Chris, Justina, Kirsten, Katrina, and Ray; six great-great-grandchildren; his nephew from his elder sister, Benedict Herrman; and friends. His oldest son, Roger, passed earlier this year.

His influence in Subud was far-reaching, first as a co-founder of The Human Institute in Palo Alto in the 1960’s (along with Hussein Chung and Reynold Bean), where their ground-breaking work was responsible for opening many people in Subud. He was an active, influential helper for many years in the Santa Cruz Subud group, earning the love and respect of those whose lives he touched.

A celebration of life (memorial) service for the Subud community will be held at some time in the future and will be publicized as details are available


  1. God bless Harris on his journey. I met him first at the Human Institute which had a great influence on my life and led me to Subud. Such a full and varied life he had! Blessings and condolences to his family from me and Sjarifuddin.

  2. Harris was a helper at my opening. He was perhaps the most caringly open hearted person I had ever met. Always kind, always welcoming, Harris at times seemed to have the sun shining in his heart. Just his presence and his energy had a permanent impact on me and my Subud journey—I hoped someday to be blessed by such a loving radiance.

  3. Thank you for the beautiful tribute to Harris. I knew him in the last years of his life here in Portland, but it was amazing to read the story of his entire life. It seems that he truly lived a life “worth living” – an inspiration to all of us. Thanks so much for the tribute to Harris.

  4. Harris led me to Subud by his shining example as a human being when I took a class from him in psychodrama. Later I was a client of his in psychotherapy and finally a friend. God bless his soul.

  5. Sorry to hear about Harris passing. Blessings and prayers to him and his family, and the immense group of his friends. Such news is now coming too often. Best to all who continue their journey. Abraham

  6. I wish I had known him better. I was fortunate to have him, Reynold Bean and Hamilton Brannon as house guests when we lived near Mt. Lassen. He was quiet and self contained, with nothing to prove. But with these three, I’ve never laughed so much in my life. A very happy memory.

  7. I was introduced to Harris through a weekend psychodrama that he facilitated at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. I was profoundly effected by his work and powerful, loving presence.
    Harris offered a psychodrama training class that I took, and later helped him train students for about 7 years. He was such an important mentor to me, and I learned so much about myself, others, and the depth of our common connectedness in navigating our spiritual nature and our human conditioning. It was so apparent when Harris would drop someone into their depths (which he was so incredibly good at), that we are all dealing with and feeling the same human stuff. The deeper he dropped somebody into their human authenticity, the brighter their divinity shined.
    Harris was the most wise, intuitive, influential teacher I ever had. I love that man, and am truly grateful that he touched my life, and the lives of so many others. I witnessed the beautiful transformation and unfolding of many students that were blessed to be on the receiving end of his refined skill and spiritual presence. He has been such a blessing to me. His bright light and commitment to the truth continues to shine, teach, and live in me. May he be held in the love and the light that he gave to so many.

  8. I remember Harris from Palo Alto and Santa Cruz. Once I made India Curry for a subud potluck event. Harris was so happy, he said he grew up in India and had miss eating a good curry dish. I guess mine dish brought Harris back good memories.
    I remember helping make a wedding quilt for Harris and Maya wedding. Blessings to all the families. Love, Raina

  9. I just happened to find this and love seeing this. Harris was my therapist in Santa Cruz through most of the 1990’s. First he sat and listened, waiting long enough for me to trust him. Then, he offered to ‘travel’ with me back into the darkness, always letting me lead. Once there, he helped me shine a light in that darkness, transforming the way I lived with my demons so I could release them. I can say he helped me find my way to the other side of the trauma. I moved from a world of grays into a world of full blown color. My gratitude is beyond words for this kind, gentle man who used his light to help me find mine.


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