CLARK JR., HARLEY RAY (1935 ~ 2014). The following is an obituary for Judge Harley Clark Jr. The obituary was published in the Austin American Statesman on October 12, 2014.
By the time he was twenty Harley Clark had already made a historic change at the University of Texas. As UT Head Cheerleader, he introduced the now famous Hook 'Em Horns hand signal at a Gregory Gym pep rally in November of 1955. He unilaterally proclaimed it to be the official University of Texas hand sign, and so it is. He went on to affect Texas education in other significant ways, most notably as a District Judge when in 1987 he wrote the decision in Edgewood I.S.D. v. Kirby, in which he found the entire system of financing public schools in Texas to be unconstitutional. His opinion was upheld by a unanimous Texas Supreme Court in 1989.
Harley Clark was born on November 8, 1935 in Dallas, Texas, the only child of Harley Ray Clark, Sr. and Estelle Sampsell Clark. Harley was sixteen when his family moved to Austin where his father owned Blomquist-Clark, a men's clothing store on Congress Avenue. Harley graduated from Austin High in 1952. With great enthusiasm he attended UT and received three degrees: a BA and MA in Government, and subsequently his law degree in 1962. In addition to serving as the Head Cheerleader, Harley was student body president from 1957 to 1958. He was a member of The Cowboys, The Friars, and the Tejas Clubs on campus, and was the recipient of the Mike Flynn Award his Senior Year. Between graduate school and law school Harley served in the US Marines as a Private First Class.
After law school Harley became a successful trial lawyer. He was a partner in the firm Byrd, Davis, Eisenberg and Clark. He was elected President of what is now known as the Austin Bar Association, served on the Board of the Texas Trial Lawyers, and as President of the Travis County Trial Lawyers Association. When the legislature created a new Civil District Court for Travis County, Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Harley to serve on that bench in 1977. Five years later his fellow District Judges selected him to serve as their Local Administrative Judge. Judge Clark was considered to be an especially patient and principled jurist, well respected by the Bar and well loved by many in the community.
In 1989, after being successfully re-elected several times to his bench, Judge Clark decided to return to private practice and served for ten years as the head of the litigation section in the Austin office of the nationally renowned firm, Vinson and Elkins. While at Vinson and Elkins he was a member of the defense team on behalf of the University of Texas in the famous Hopwood v. Texas case.
Organic gardening has been Harley's life-long passion. Upon retirement from the law Harley became a full-time farmer on the Clark Farm, near Dripping Springs, where he raised and sold organic vegetables for a few lucky restaurants and grocers in the Austin area. Harley was a perennial student who read deeply into the details of soils, seedlings, tomatoes, and all things gardening. Harley told a reporter once of his forty-acre farm, "I figure if forty acres is big enough to start a university, it'sbig enough to start a farm!"
In each of Harley's stages of life he developed deep and long-lasting friendships that endured to the end. He kept up with friends from high school, college, his years as an attorney, and his time on the bench. He was also privileged to mentor many young lawyers and aspiring gardeners.
In Harley's final years he struggled with multiple medical issues, which he worked tenaciously to overcome. Ultimately it was prostate cancer that took him. He passed away at his beloved farm where he was able to spend the last months of his life surrounded by books, dogs, family, friends and wonderful memories.
His family would like to thank all of those who visited Harley and sent their best wishes in his final months. These visits and good wishes helped sustain him. We especially appreciate Terry Barnett for his exceptional loving care of Harley; we are forever grateful to him for his devotion. Our thanks also go to Kim Marshall and Mary Quevedo, Laura Russell and Patty Almond for their friendship and dedication to Harley.
Judge Clark's judicial and legal papers have been donated to the Briscoe Center of American History, which is located on the UT campus. His iconic cheerleader shirt from the 1950's has been donated to the UT Ex-Students Students Association. In his retirement years, during UT football games you could find Harley hanging out at the Ex-Students' Association and the Cowboy Pavilion as a member of the UT Ambassadors. In 2009 he received the Jack Harbin Top Hand Award from the Texas Exes for Outstanding Service. He also was awarded the Distinguished Alumni award from The Tejas Club. He was Life Member No. 40 of the Texas Exes, and his blood ran orange to the very end.
Judge Clark is survived by his wife Patti Clark, daughters Cari Clark and her husband Mike Valigura, Paige Suffredini and her husband John Suffredini, Jeneffer Allen and her husband Cal Allen, and his youngest daughter Teel Mayo Clark. Harley had five grandchildren: Clark Schwab, Thomas Schwab, Hannah Valigura, Abbey Allen, and Sophia Suffredini.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Harley Clark Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 50553, Austin, TX 78763.
A funeral service and reception will be held on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, at 2:00pm at the UT Ex-Students' Center, 2110 San Jacinto Boulevard. A graveside service will be held after the reception at The Texas State Cemetery.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Oct. 12 to Oct. 13, 2014