Judge Clark offered much to admire

Respected official who ‘wore cowboy boots with his three-piece suits’ was a dedicated family man and public servant

letters@thetribunenews.comAugust 16, 2013 

Much already has been written about Judge William P. Clark’s storied public career. A New York Times obituary recently described him as one of President Ronald Reagan’s most trusted advisers, and recalled that Time magazine once dubbed Clark the second most powerful man in the White House.

The highlights of Clark’s career — his fateful first meeting with Reagan; his appointment to the state Supreme Court at age 41; the series of high-ranking positions he held in the Reagan administration — are well-documented.

When he was laid to rest on Wednesday, it was fitting that the focus shifted to Clark’s private life: his love of family, his deep religious faith, his humble nature, his strong ties to San Luis Obispo County and, as his daughter Nina Negranti so eloquently phrased it, “the Shandon soil.”

At another point in her eulogy, Negranti noted that throughout Clark’s career, “To us, he was just dad.”

Judge Clark took that role of “dad” very seriously. When he resigned from the Department of Interior in 1985, he remarked that it was time to get back to his ranch in Shandon.

“I’ve been here for four years now, and I want to get back to the family,” he said then.

There is so much to admire about Judge Clark, that it’s difficult to single out a particular trait or incident, but we want to touch on two:

His generosity, as exemplified by the gift of Chapel Hill — a 900-square-foot nondenominational chapel — to the community, and the grace he showed in dealing with Parkinson’s disease. That shines through in this quotation included in the introduction to Clark’s biography by Dr. Paul Kengor: “God gave Parkinson’s to such saints as John Paul II and my father, and now he has gotten around to the sinners, such as myself.”

Once described by The Associated Press as “a man who wore cowboy boots with his three-piece suits,” Clark was remembered Wednesday by hundreds of family members, friends and colleagues — many of whom wore cowboy boots with their suits.

We join in paying our respects to Judge Clark, and in honoring his years of service and dedication to the nation, the state of California and to San Luis Obispo County.

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