Community mourns the passing of Clayton J. Karambelas ’49

Clayton J. Karambelas, a distinguished alumnus of and donor to Wilkes University, passed away on Monday, Nov. 15. Karambelas was a graduate of the class of 1949 and had given some of the largest contributions to Wilkes in his lifetime.

Karambelas was an undergraduate student at Bucknell University Junior College, later earning his bachelor’s degree in commerce and finance from then-Wilkes College. During his student career, he was actively involved in campus happenings. He was the president of student council, a wrestler and tennis player, a member of the Letterman’s Club and a coach of the swim team.

Although the campus benefits from any large donations, Clayton and Theresa Karambelas’ contributions alone greatly aided in shaping the campus to be what it is today.

Many popular spots on campus have all been made possible with the generous support of Clayton and Theresa Karambelas. The Karambelas Media and Communication Center; the Karambelas East Gateway; the Karambelas Pergola; the digital marquee in front of the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center; the grand staircase in the Cohen Science Center; and the concourse of the Henry Student Center are some of the results from the Karambelas’ donations.

“It is impossible to walk through the Wilkes campus without seeing tangible expressions of Clayton and Theresa’s love for both our University and the students who call it home,” said President Cant in a statement following the news of Karambelas’ passing. 

Aside from namesake dedications, Clayton and Theresa Karambelas have received distinguished honors throughout their life. In 2016, they received the President’s Medal, which, according to Cant, is the highest honor possible given annually at the Founders Gala. In 2017, Karambelas was awarded the Robert K. Mericle Leadership Award and the Osterhout Free Library’s Evergreen Award.

Karambelas was also on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and received emeritus status in 2018.

Following the news of his death, members of Wilkes and the surrounding communities have sent support to Theresa Karambelas and other family members. 

“Together with his beloved wife, Theresa, he helped to transform the Wilkes campus through his loyalty, vision and generosity,” said Cant.

Visiting hours are being offered from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday at Kniffen O’Malley Leffler Funeral & Cremation Services. Clayton Karambelas’ funeral will be held in Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. He will be laid to rest at St. Mary’s Cemetery following the funeral.