Tributes to
J. Desmond Clark


I got to know Desmond while working as his editorial assistant for several months on the third Kalambo Falls volume. He and my husband Gary had been friends for years, and I had met him at social events, but this was when I got to know him. It was a difficult time – there had been frustrating setbacks in assembling the volume, and Desmond's eyesight was failing – so I suppose our friendship was forged in fire.

What struck me most about Desmond at the time was the passionate commitment with which he applied himself to his work, even while he could not read the words he was writing on the pages of his manuscript. Although he could not see well enough to recognize my face if I were standing in front of him, he would walk by himself to pick up his mail in another building or to meet a friend for lunch. He was not too proud to ask for help when he needed it, but he pushed the limits of what his eyesight would allow him to do, and I admired him for it.

As I got to know Desmond better, my appreciation for him grew. I always looked forward to the great conversations we'd have at dinners and parties at his and Betty's home. He was as interested in talking about Gilbert and Sullivan operettas or Northern California natural history as he was in talking about archaeology and prehistory. Betty, in turn, would entertain us with amusing and wonderfully articulate stories about their rich life together. Gary and I have many happy memories of the gracious hospitality for which Desmond and Betty were famous.

Last but not least, Desmond had a warm heart and a generous spirit. I will miss him.

Rebecca Jabbour, CUNY