Tributes to
J. Desmond Clark


I have read with great interest and sadness about the enormous impression that my grandfather appears to have left on so many people's lives. It is of course, I believe, in a mainly professional capacity that many of his colleagues and students/ex-students will miss him. Clearly his vast contribution to the world of Archeology will be hard to beat.

However, I will miss him as a grandfather, both to me, and latterly as a great-grandfather to my daughter Victoria, with whom he, rather to our (and I think his own!) surprise, had a joyful relationship. He was certainly looking forward to being able to see us on a regular basis after his final move back to the UK. Sadly this was never to be.

Due to his many and frequent trips on various field activities he didn't get to see much at times of his children during their formative years. Later on, we as grandchildren saw him at least on an annual basis, sometimes more, given that we lived in Africa for many years, and have many fond memories of him. One of my earliest memories is of his story-telling ability. How many of you know this? We would climb into his bed in the morning, and after the ritual beard pulling session, he would then launch into the "Wolfie story". This story never varied from year to year and we never tired of hearing it. Needless to say the moral was don't cry "wolf" too often otherwise he'll eat you up!

Later on, after I left school and having taken a 'gap' year before going on to Durham University in the UK, I spent quite sometime with Desmond and Betty in California. It was at that time that I really got to know him as an adult, and perhaps even gain some of his respect. I too have memories (during this visit) of his clam bakes near the Cabin at Point Reyes. He trying his best to persuade me that these slimy half cooked things really are good to eat! In this I have to say he never succeeded. It was also during this time that he was giving a lecture to a Society (can't remember which) in San Francisco and Betty and I had go with him. Well as a prospective student (and not of Archeology) I have to say that I bedded myself down in the seat and prepared to be bored, and possibly enjoy a nap, for the next hour and half. However, I can honestly say that I had never heard before, and never have since, such an interesting and enthusiastically delivered lecture. I actually listened and learned. He clearly had the ability to carry a whole audience with him right to the end. I envy all his students to be taught by someone who had this ability and absolute enjoyment of passing on this knowledge in such an approachable way, if this is the correct word.

I can remember many a dinner conversation spent on such a wide-ranging number of topics, on which he invariably knew something. The only area where he lacked was in business, and for someone who read Economics and has gone on into the world of multi-nationals I have to say this type of conversation didn't hold too much interest for him! Never mind there were plenty of others.

Grandpapa, you will be missed by all of your family in one way or another. I hope you are meeting old friends, family, especially your mother and brother, and having a wild time with just the right amount of whiskey and good cigars.

Sarah Leijten-Clark - Granddaughter, Amsterdam, The Netherlands