In accord with his previously written wishes, John was removed from life support and passed away on May 2, 2007, following a massive stroke from which there was no hope of meaningful recovery. John had been in good health and was recovering from a successful cancerous lung operation. His demise was a shock to everyone. He was not an active alumnus, but this reporter had had several phone conversations with John in the early fall of 2006 resulting in a “note” published in the Winter 2007 issue of Amherst.
John grew up in the Wilmington, DE, area. He attended Tower Hill School in Wilmington but was graduated from St. George’s in Newport, RI, in 1947. He was graduated with us in 1951, majoring in economics. During our sophomore or junior year, a first time controversial course in statistics was introduced into the Amherst economics department curriculum. John cites this course as a springboard to his attendance at Harvard Business School from which he was graduated in 1953 and to his business career in the years to come. In 1953, John, like many of us following our formal education, began his deferred military service. Commissioned as ensign, John served in the US Navy for over three years aboard the aircraft carrier Coral Sea with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. He continued in the US Naval Reserve from his Wilmington home for over thirty-one years, retiring with the rank of captain in 1984.
John began his business management career in Wilmington with Atlas Powder Company. He remained with the company through its many mergers and acquisitions, name and product changes, retiring as director of reprographics of Astra-Zenaca in 1994. He concluded that although he had not changed employers as many had, he had had about the same experiences, moving upward in management as changes in plans, products and marketing were introduced.
John married Alice Richards of Ardmore, PA, in 1955. Their only child, John (Jay), an attorney in Wilmington, survives with his wife, son and daughter. Alice passed away in 1990. John married his second wife, Ann Burrows, of Greenville, DE, in 1997. She died in 2006. Following retirement, John spent equal time at his Delray Beach home and his Wilmington residence. John looked forward to his time with his son and his son’s family. Shortly before he passed away, John and his grandson had a golfing week together at John’s Florida home.
The lengthy list of John’s social, historic and business associations suggests that John never met an organization he wasn’t willing to join. His love of golf and sailing led him to become a member of golf and yacht clubs, both in Wilmington and in Florida. He also had a keen interest in genealogy and local history. Not content with mere membership, John agreed to participate in planning and management tasks that eventually led to roles as president and commodore. Possibly, he enjoyed the management function as much as the sports, historical, business or social purpose of the organization! In the Wilmington area, he was on the board of directors of the Port of Wilmington and the Rotary Club and president or vice president of several historical and genealogical societies such as the Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of Colonial Wars and the Delaware Swedish Colonial Society.
John clearly loved life and attacked his goals with enthusiasm and purpose. The challenge was to define problems, seeks solutions and get it right. He latched on to an old adage he read on a passing roadside billboard: “If you love life, life will love you back.”
The Class of 1951 extends its condolences to his son and his family.
—Everett E. Clark ’51