Tributes to
J. Desmond Clark



Professor J Desmond Clark CBE! I find myself brought up with a round turn --- to me he was my big brother. Now I realise he was in fact two persons in one. First, the brilliant Palaeontologist known throughout the world, and the second that kind, gentle, laughing brother who would always stand by me when I was a child. He had charm that won him friends, he had a wonderful sense of humour and he shared my love of animals.

There was another brother between us, Michael, who was killed at the Battle of Cassino in the war. I know it was a source of sorrow to Desmond that he was not able to get to know Michael well as an adult.

We all went away to school but in the holidays we quickly united. We walked a lot and entertained our friends and relations with homemade plays and sketches particularly at Christmas time. Then he went off to Africa and I seldom saw him. Fortunately years later I came to live near Cambridge and when his work brought him to England he frequently stayed with me.

He married the girl he met at Cambridge University, Betty. They were very young but it was certainly the wisest step he ever took. She stood by him and backed him in everything. Quite apart from being a good wife, and mother to their two children, she aided him always, accompanying him on his excavations, setting up campsites, finding lodgings, interpreting as she spoke several languages, she typed and illustrated his books (his handwriting was appalling). In fact he would never have achieved all he did without her at his side.

Desmond never sought publicity. He was just totally dedicated to his work --- it was his life and I am so glad he was able to complete his book Kalambo Falls before his death and saw it published.

I am very proud of my big brother, and also that I aided him with one of his first excavations, a Roman site near where we lived in Buckinghamshire!

-his sister Moira C Coulson (nee Clark)