Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | April 24, 2019

Bill Clark, Professor Emeritus of French and World Languages, October 29, 1937 – June 18, 2018

Bill Clark, Professor Emeritus of French and World Languages, October 29, 1937 – June 18, 2018

By Fátima Serra

Bill Clark

On Sunday, June 18, 2018, Emeritus Professor William Clark of the Department of World Languages and Cultures passed away at the age of eighty. Professor Clark was a beloved professor of French and other languages in what was then called Department of Foreign Languages, for thirty four years, from 1969 until 2003. Bill was also a first-rate flute player, playing second flute to his wife Beverly in Symphony by the Sea, the orchestra they cofounded. He was also an expert in wine, being a member of the American Society of Wine Educators, and he taught wine courses all over the North Shore.

When I arrived at Salem State in 1997, Bill Clark’s guidance and support helped me navigate the intricacies of this institution. I was coming from a different country and sharing an office with him was the best thing that happened to me at SSU. From day one, his work and generosity stood out: reviewing and editing junior faculty writings, tutoring students, sharing his syllabi and experience, and spending countless hours recruiting the next generation of World Languages faculty. Bill Clark made it all seem effortless and spontaneous, though I realized it was the product of great effort, dedication, knowledge, and preparation. I will always cherish the memory of his calm demeanor and sense of humor, he helped me loosen up and be resilient at the same time. In short, he was a true mentor.

Bill’s wife, Beverly (Seger) Clark remembers with delight that in his last days he had the chance to reminisce about his Salem State days again. His cardiologist turned out to be one of the most outstanding students Bill ever had at Salem State, a Russian émigré, now Dr. Michael Goldstein. When he became sick, they spent some time sharing the memories and reconnecting again.

Bill spoke beautiful French and could handle himself in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. He believed in World Languages. He supported the renewed efforts to add languages to our department and bring back language majors, after they had disappeared from the Salem State curriculum. He guided us through the curriculum creation process and led the charge to populate the department with new members. The result is a thriving program with a solid major, multiple minors and different paths for our undergraduate and graduate students.

Upon retirement from Salem State in 2002, music, reading French classics, The American Society of Wine Educators, and travels with his family filled his time with enjoyment.

In addition to his wife of 49 years, Bill left behind four children, seven grandchildren, as well as colleagues and fellow musicians who will miss him very much. We are happy to have had the chance to share part of his journey and celebrate his life.


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