Funeral services for Dr. Donald Lewis Clark were held April 30, 2011 at the Faith Community Church in Roslyn, PA. A dynamic speaker and tireless worker in the fields of education and civil rights, Dr. Clark had been president of the Willow Grove Branch of the NAACP for the past 11 years.
Humble beginnings and early years
Donald Lewis Clark was born May 29, 1935 to the late Jeanette and Lewis dark. He was the older brother to Gerald and Wayne. Wayne preceded Donald at the tender age of three.
Donald accepted the Lord Jesus Christ early in his life at Jones Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, PA under the Pastorate of The Reverend William P. Stevenson. Additionally, under the leadership of The Reverend Dr. Leon Sullivan at Zion Baptist Church, he received his spiritual guidance. Dr. Sullivan became Don’s mentor.
Donald was a product of the Philadelphia Public School System and graduated from North East High School. He received his Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Cheyney University and began his teaching career in Special Education in the Camden Public School system. He went on to earn a Masters at Glassboro State College (now Rowan State University), and Doctoral in Educational Leadership and Planning at Fairleigh-Dickinson University.
In 1957 Don entered the United States Army, becoming a member of the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, KY, where he would spend the next two years. The third year was spent in the Reserves, and he received an Honorable Discharge as an SP4 (E-4) (T) Rank 1963.
In August 1958 he married Darlene Sims and from that union was born two sons, Dwayne and David. For a while he lived in Philadelphia and then moved his family to Willingboro, NJ. This is where Donald began what would be the long journey in the areas of Community Service, Advocacy of educating children, especially the Black Child and Civil Rights involvement.
His Life Mission
While in Willingboro, Donald was an Assistant Professor in Special Education at Trenton State College. He was also an Associate Professor and Chairperson, Urban Teacher Preparation, Livingston College as well as taught in the Graduate Division of Educational Planning at Rutgers University. Additionally, he became the Vice President and Senior Partner ofUSDA Inc., a national 10 cities Research & Development Center Consulting Services Firm.
Donald moved to Harrisburg and became the Director of the Bureau of Curriculum and Academic Services, PA Department Education, which included Curriculum and Instruction, Strategic Planning, School Based Improvement, Evaluation and Testing, School Equity and Federal Programs (Chapters I, II, Title II and Goals 2000.
Don provided Consultant, Training and Lecturing services to National, State, Local and Advocacy groups. He provided leadership development to Parent and Community organizations and to a number of high school and college groups. He provided Staff Development and Technical Assistance Services to over 10 international educational communities (Caribbean, Canada, Japan, Several European Communities and South Africa). He served on over 25 Boards and Commissions throughout the final decade before his retirement. These included Incarcerated Women’s Advisory Board, Juvenile Justice Center of PA (CASA Project), National Center for Education in the Inner City, National Council of Educating Black
Children(NCEBC),Conference on Basic Black
Education (COBBE), and WITF (PBS Harrisburg) Advisory Committee.
His later years
In 1983, Donald met Margot (a divine intervention) and for the next 28 years, they became friends and partners – a team that would travel these United States, Canada and the Caribbean Islands doing what they both did best – teach. Together they would raise Joi, whom he referred as his “Little Princess,” while embracing her brothers Joseaf and Jonathan, who resided in Georgia.
By 1990, he had become the recipient of over 12 honors and awards which included The Donald L. dark Scholarship, provided by the NJ Association of Parent Coordinators. He was also invited to teach the first lesson of the Curriculum on Non Violence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, GA.
In 1995, Margot and Don married and when he retired in 1996 after 40 years of active educational service, he began a new era of involvement in his new community (Willow Grove – Abington Township). He became a member of The First Baptist Church of Crestmont and became a huge presence in the teaching of Black history, incorporating it with the Bible. He was proud of his heritage and wanted not only his church family, but the community as well to know about the history of the church and to acquire an appreciation from where we have come and for where God would have us go. He wanted to ensure his people that they would have a “pulse” in the Abington community. There was no way that you could have come in contact with him and not to have to at least pick up some “gem” from him. As the President of the Willow Grove NAACP Chapter for the past 11 years, there have been great strides in Abington’s becoming one of the best communities in which the African American has been given his/her respect as a citizen; to have equal access to jobs and to guarantee its children one of the best educations in these United States of America. Don was also a member of First Baptist’s MOG (Men of God) Ministry and the Holloman’s Couple Club, which had originated at First Baptist.
His influence and impact in the community
He served on the Abington Human Relations Advisory Committee, the Communities that Care Project, Abington Community Taskforce (ACT), Community and Police Together (C.A.P.T.), Abington Human Relations Advisory Council (AHRAC), Abington Police Athletic League (P.A.L.), District Strategic Planning Commission, and No Place for Hate. He also completed the F.B.I. Community Partnership program.
He also served on the following boards:
- Consultant to Western Michigan University/Kellogg Foundation- Urban Superintendent’s Project
- President of the Willow Grove Branch of the NAACP
- Board Chairperson – The Institute for the Preservation of African American Music
- Board Chairperson – Montgomery County Human Relations Commission
- Board Member of The Willow Grove Foundation
- Board Member (NCEBC) National Council on Educating Black Children
- Board Chair – Mt. Airy Cultural Jazz Center.
When Don opened his mouth, his voice would resonate long after he spoke and he had a way of touching your inner soul. One of his favorite lines was: “I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but I don’t apologize for what I say.” He believed “every child had the right to learn” and if he had anything to do with it, he saw that it was done. He was a strong advocate for the “underdog” and he would go out on a limb for you if you were within your rights.
Don had a brilliant mind and didn’t mind sharing his wealth of knowledge. He enjoyed reading, tennis and jazz. He had a Phi Beta Key and was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
The legacy lives on
He leaves to cherish his memory, his best friend and wife Margot, four sons: Dwayne (Wendy-Willingboro, NJ), Joseaf(Alma-Fayetteville,GA), David (Phoenix, Arizona), and Jonathan (Myia- College Park, GA) one daughter Joi, an extended daughter Michelle Hiett-Raye, three granddaughters: Erin, Amina and Zoe and four grandsons: David Jr., Zachary, Brandon and Amare-Jaydon; four god children, Bianca Whiteside, Lamar Williams, Calvin Anderson and Lillian Vinson; three sisters-in law. Grace Rowe (Acey – Decatur, GA), Janie Lynch (Brevard, NC), and Rose McK-ee, Clifton Heights, NJ; a brother Gerald dark and one brother-in law Connie Williams (Allbrightsville, PA); a host of nieces and nephews; cousins in New York and California, and a myriad of friends, including his best friend and partner in the struggle Dr. J. Jerome Harris (Earlene- Atlanta, GA) and Dr. Marion B. Holmes, who was indirectly responsible for Don and Margot’s meeting
Because of who he was and what he stood for, many lives were touched and because of him, we are all better people for having known him.