“He worked harder and longer and more successfully than any other man to establish the city’s cultural life and institutions.” This is a quotation from a resolution of the Cleveland City Council on the 80th birthday of Harold T. Clark, a Cleveland Heights citizen. It is difficult to choose material for this brief account from among the many activities of this remarkable man. Mr. Clark came to Cleveland in 1906 to practice law, after having graduated from Yale University and the Harvard School of Law. It was not long before he became a member of the firm Squire, Saunders and Dempsey, and established a reputation in corporation and probate law.
Mr. Clark had many business interests. He served on the board of directors of such firms as the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (now part of First Energy). When he did not participate actively in civic affairs he was asked to serve in an advisory capacity. An example of this is the University Circle Development Foundation. It is said that Mr. Clark would find needs and then find a way to meet the needs. During his lifetime he helped to distribute many millions dollars from the Leonard C. Hanna Fund, of which he was the president.
Mr. Clark’s name and work are closely associated with the Museum of Natural Science and Brookside Park. It is said that he alone saved the Natural Science Museum during the years of the Depression. He helped start the group known as the Friends of the Cleveland Zoo. Together with Mrs. Benjamin Bole, Mr. Clark succeeded in getting the Holden Arboretum moved to its present location on Sperry Road in Kirtland. Then, too, he launched a move to preserve the Mentor Marsh for a bird sanctuary and now a Natural History Landmark.
A personal knowledge of blindness (both his grandfather and his mother were blind) caused Mr. Clark to devote his time to the Society for the Blind. He served on the Board of Trustees and as vice president for a quarter of a century. He worked diligently to get sight-saving and Braille classes started in the schools.
The tennis stadium in the Heights, where the Davis Cup matches were held in 1965, bore Mr. Clark’s name brought many fine tennis matches to the Heights. The stadium was one of his last projects.
The Western Reserve Historical Society, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Karamu, and almost any cultural institution that might be mentioned in this areas came to the attention of this man who was interested in the development of cultural institutions and their needs.
The services of this Fairmount Boulevard resident who was born in Derby, Connecticut on September 4, 1882 made a record that few men can match. Mr. Clark died May 31, 1965. It could well be said that his life had been completely dedicated to public service.
Reprinted with permission from “The Proud Heritage of Cleveland Heights,” © 1965 by the Women’s Civic Club of Cleveland Heights