In Memoriam

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Gordon Kendall Clark ’33

A picture of Gordon Clark

Gordon Kendall Clark ’33, March 10, 2005, in Vancouver, Washington. Gordon began his undergraduate study at Reed with a focus on physics, transferring after two years to the landscape architecture program at Oregon State College (University) and the University of Oregon. He received a BS in architecture and environmental design in 1938. In 1937, he married fellow classmate Elaine E. Ellmaker. During World War II, Gordon did wartime camouflage planning with U.S. Army engineers. His position as a city planner with the Portland Bureau of Planning began in 1945, and was uniquely shaped by his regard for humanity and his artistic gifts. Portland developed a reputation as a city of integrated and well planned green space in great part due to Gordon's vision and unprecedented sense of urban design. During his time at the bureau, he formulated ideas for bike paths, pedestrian walkways, parks, and open plazas (such as, Pioneer Courthouse Square), and initiated the greenway that became McCall Waterfront Park. Gordon began a second career in retirement in 1976 as a nature photographer, capturing beautiful and abstract details on film. The adventure of photography, which became a shared occupation for Gordon and Elaine, produced award-winning prints. In 1983, 120 of his color photos were displayed in Reed's Vollum Hall. "Always attracted to natural settings, I took to campus waterside trails when library study became tedious," Gordon wrote. "Fifty-two years later, I explored these same trails with camera and tripod for fall color photographs to commemorate the 50th anniversary of my class of 1933." (Prints from this show are housed in the Portland Art Museum and the Gilkey Print collections.) Gordon was a member of the Mazama Club, and successfully climbed 70-plus mountain peaks. He was also a member of the Sierra Club, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Leach Garden Friends, and the Nature Conservancy. The Clarks collected art, shared of love of classical music, and provided a rich and enduring legacy for their children. Gordon concluded a 1928 Reed English class essay, "My Ideal Day," with what may be seen as a tribute to his life: "Serve others, contribute to the well-fare of mankind, and at the close of each day, leave the world a little better than you found it." Survivors include 3 sons; 4 daughters, including Megan J. Clark, who supplied details for this memorial; 10 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and his sister. His wife died in 2003.

Appeared in Reed magazine: August 2005

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