- Written by Christian Wissmuller
- Published: 15 July 2014
On July 14th, MMR was contacted by Jordan Kitts' Chris Syllaba who shared the sad news of the passing of the company's former president, Clem D'Avella. The following is a tribute that Chris wrote in memory of Clem:
A Tribute to Clement D'Avella 1931 - 2014
Today we celebrate the life of Clem D'Avella, a man who had a great impact on so many of us in the music industry.
Clem was born in Italy but spent most of his years in the Washington DC area. He lived in Washington DC, in Sliver Spring and eventually settled in Potomac, Maryland.
In 1956, Clem began his life-long career in the music industry at the original Arthur Jordan Piano Company store on 13th and G Streets in NW Washington DC. He was assigned to the piano department and quickly became a store manager, moving to the Silver Spring, MD store. Moving steadily up the ranks he eventually became Executive Vice President and ultimately, in 1988, President of Jordan Kitt's Music.
Clem remained in that position until his retirement in 1991. Even after retirement, however, Clem's dedication to the company and it's employees remained as he was called back in 1993 to again lead the sales organization. Even after his second retirement Clem was senior advisor to Jordan Kitt's until owner Bill McCormick's passing in 2007.
Clem was instrumental in so many ways to the company, including the period of expansion into the Baltimore and Richmond markets. He was a key figure in the acquisitions of Wells Music (Denver market) in 1981, Wilmington Piano Company (Philadelphia market) in 1988, and Temple of Music (Virginia Beach market) also in 1988.
Clem quickly became Mr. McCormick's right hand man, both in motivating the Jordan Kitt's sales force and during his vendor trips to Italy with Mr. McCormick's company, Georgetown Leather Design.
Giving back to the community and the industry was also a big part of Clem's life through his years of service on the NAMM board. But his true contribution was his huge impact on so many lives within and outside of the industry. He worked very hard to ensure that his mother and father were well taken care of, participating in their care together with his sister. He was devoted to his family, including his wife Mary, both admiring what she accomplished in her career and cherishing their many years together, and his children, Mike and Frank.
According to friend and former Jordan Kitt's executive Dennis Houlihan, Clem was "a man with a huge heart - filled with love and compassion."
Clem. You were a truly great man. I will never forget the influence you had on my life and your unwavering guidance in my career. Thank you for the person you were and your invaluable contribution to this world.
- Chris Syllaba, President & CEO, Jordan Kitts Music