Enduring Character: Remembering Jerry Clark
Dan Roberts has a favorite quote coined by the 19th Century American newspaper editor and publisher, Horace Greeley: Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.
“Jerry embodied this as well as any person I know,” says Dan. “Jerry Clark’s character endures in so many people, and for good reason.”
SHP lost a treasured colleague and friend when Jerry passed away earlier this year. The fiercely loyal family man and enthusiastic Cincinnati Reds fan is remembered by our staff not only for what he brought to our business development team but for the strength of character he brought to our lives.
“He had an honest, kind, caring, easy way about him. People looked forward to seeing him,” shares long-time SHP president, Lauren Della Bella. She would often meet with Jerry to discuss the firm, our strategies, and life, but also to seek his counsel.
“He mentored me and helped frame my perspective she explains. “His experience as a leader, but also his temperament was invaluable to teaching me how to do my job better.”
When describing Jerry, “trustworthy” is a word that comes up a lot. People truly wanted to be part of his circle, and he easily won others over with his genuine nature. He lived as he acted, which “made him an easy person to like,” says Lauren. “And you always knew that the relationship was mutual.”
His calm demeanor and natural trustworthiness were bolstered by his experiences both in and out of the classroom. Jerry began his career as a teacher and coach in Greater Cincinnati’s Lakota Local School District, then spent 15 years as the superintendent of Piqua City Schools in western Ohio. Under Jerry’s leadership, Piqua rebuilt its junior high school and added a new football stadium.
“He had a significant effect on education and the quality of the community he served,” Dan says. He describes Jerry’s tenure as superintendent as marked by his involvement in the community: events, athletics and business. He wasn’t afraid to go above and beyond the expectations of the job.
“As a former superintendent myself, I can tell you: the community’s trust is vital,” Dan continues. “You can do so much more, the community can benefit so greatly when there’s confidence in the school district—and that starts with the superintendent.”
Knowing the ins and outs of public education added a level of credibility to every relationship Jerry built. “They knew he would deliver,” says Lauren. But it was his patience that most impressed Dan.
“I’ve never been gifted with that particular characteristic,” Dan shares with a laugh. “Jerry would always reassure me. ‘It will come,’ he’d say. I never believed that he stopped believing in me.”
Jerry will be missed for his calm, his class and his character. But it is his devotion to his beloved family that will be his legacy.
“He was so, so proud of his family,” recalls Lauren. “His wife Joyce, his boys Casey and Cooper, Casey’s wife Ekta—he adored them.”
Dan echoes Lauren’s sentiments: “His family meant everything to him. He was an incredibly successful person, school administrator and community man, but I’m telling you: everything revolved around his family. If they hurt, he hurt. He felt every pain they ever had. He held them in such reverence.”
Without question, Jerry was a rare person and one whom we will sorely miss. Rest well, dear friend.
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