Tributes to
J. Desmond Clark


Desmond was a member of my graduate committee. When I heard the news of his passing from a colleague, I blurted out "Bloody hell!", which is odd since that particular exhortation is not generally part of my vocabulary! Anyway, I want to share a random tidbit that has stuck with me all these years. Some time when I was studying in my first year at Berkeley (1976-77), Desmond showed me a silver Maria Teresa thaler he had (as I recall) in his desk drawer. I asked him about its provenance and he told me he had received a cigarbox of thalers during his period in Ethiopia in the British Army as part of his regular pay! He told me (and I have NO idea why I remember this!) that there were something like 50 million silver Maria Teresas in circulation in Ethiopia just after the Italians were defeated and that the British Army had tapped in to that reserve to pay field officers in circumstances where army units were very far from the "normal" lines of supply...

Desmond had a profound influence on me and my career and I shall miss him very much for the rest of my days.

-John Olsen, Department of Anthropology, The University of Arizona