John Charles Clark ’21

The people of America owe a lasting debt of gratitude to John Charles Clark ’21. After graduating from SHS, John earned his bachelor’s degree from  Ohio Wesleyan  in 1925 and master’s from the University of Chicago in 1927. He taught at Lehigh University  for the next two years and then obtained a research fellowship at Stanford where he earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1935.   He then taught at Michigan  State until 1942  when World  War II beckoned. During  the war, John conducted  research involving  detonation  phenomena of explosives with a technique using high-speed radiography.  In 1946, he journeyed  to New Mexico to join the Los Alamos project as a leader in above-ground atomic bomb testing. Showing remarkable courage,  during one test, he climbed a tower to reset a misfired nuclear device.  In another  test, he dealt with unexpected  radioactive  fallout at the control bunker during a hydrogen bomb assembly test. His work spared the lives of untold numbers of U.S. soldiers and helped build a deterrent toward Soviet aggression.

He was featured in articles in Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post, and CBS produced a feature program about his career in 1959. John died on July 20, 2002 in La Jolla, California at age 99.

Nominator: Dave Winans ’60 who lives in Shelby.

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