Clarence Clark, Jr. Obituary

Clarence Walter Clark, Jr.
Clarence Walter Clark, Jr.

March 22, 1935 - November 9, 2023
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
  • Contat Us
  • Guestbook
  • Photos
  • Services
  • Send Flowers


C. Walter Clark, a beloved father, husband, brother, friend, professor, and mentor passed away peacefully at home on November 9, 2023, at the age of 88. He was surrounded by his family who cherished his presence, humor, and wisdom until the end.

Walter was born in Indianapolis, Indiana to C. Walter Clark, Sr. and Lillian Murphy Clark. He had two sisters, Eunice and Eleanor. Walter attended St. Patrick’s Elementary School and Manual High School where he enjoyed playing football and basketball. He spoke highly of his teachers and valued his education.

In 1954 Walter and two of his close high school friends joined the Air Force. Along with one of his friends, he was selected to attend the Institute of Far Eastern Languages at Yale University to study Mandarin. Following intensive training he served as a Linguist and Intelligence Analyst in Taiwan and Okinawa. It was the language training at Yale that determined his chief academic focus and lifelong interest in Asian studies. Following his service abroad he completed his military service in Colorado Springs.

Walter returned to Indiana after his discharge and attended Indiana University where he completed his bachelor’s degree and PhD. His graduate education was funded by a National Defense Education Act Fellowship.

Walter married Peggy Fulkerson, whom he met in Colorado Springs. The couple had five children: Stephen (1959), Dennis (1961), Victor (1962), Paul (1964) and Laura (1965). The family moved to Des Moines in 1963 when Walter took a teaching position in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Drake University. Walter and Peggy divorced in 1967. Peggy moved to California, and the children remained in Des Moines. She visited the children regularly on trips to Des Moines, and they later visited her in California. Peggy continued to provide support to the children, even into their adult years.

Walter continued at Drake and in December1968 married Sandra Wood, whom he met while she was completing a master’s degree in psychology at Drake. Throughout their 55 years of marriage Sandra was a loving and supportive stepmother and life partner.

Walter taught at Drake for 35 years, serving as Department Chair for 14 of those years. His principle teaching interest was China and Russia. He was eventually able to broaden the curriculum in his department after availing himself of opportunities for study in the Middle East. Two study missions were sponsored by American Professors for Peace in the Middle East, the first to Israel and second to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Sandra accompanied him on those trips. The next two Middle East trips were sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Malone Fellowship Program. Walter was selected as a Malone Fellow and made two trips followed by briefings in Washington. The first was to Iraq and the United Arab Emirates and the second to Syria. In Baghdad he delivered an invited address to the faculty of Baghdad University’s College of Political Science. The Middle Eastern trips were the beginning of many years of educational international travel enjoyed by Walter and Sandra.

In 1992, Walter joined the Des Moines chapter of “Torch” (the International Association of Torch Clubs) where members present papers on a wide variety of topics. Walter presented seven papers, one of which won the Paxton Award as the best paper presented that year at clubs across the U.S. and Canada. He travelled to Detroit to present his paper to the Detroit-Windsor Club and to receive his award.

In 1998 Walter took early retirement. Prior to that Walter and Sandra purchased a cabin on the Flambeau River in northwest Wisconsin where Walter spent many happy days fishing and enjoying the wildlife. He continued reading and writing in his traditional areas of interest, researching his family history and writing family stories. With his retirement Walter and Sandra were able to travel more frequently until the Pandemic prevented it.

Walter is survived by his wife, Sandra, his children Dennis (Jo) Clark, Victor (Marsha) Clark, Paul (Rowlyn) Clark, and Laura Clark (partner Susan Barnes), his sister Eunice Toombs, and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his younger sister Eleanor Deppe, and his son Stephen Clark.

Walter had a significant and lasting impact on many who knew him. A Celebration of Life will be held in Des Moines at Scottish Rite Park, 2909 Woodland Avenue on March 23, 2024 at 2 pm. Any questions about the celebration may be emailed to

Memorial contributions may be directed to Iowa Public Radio or Drake University.





Celebration of Life
Scottish Rite Park
2909 Woodland Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Saturday, March 23, 2024
2:00 PM
Order flowers for Clarence

Guaranteed delivery before Clarence's celebration of life begins.


Iowa Public Radio
2111 Grand Avenue, Suite 100
Des Moines, IA 50312
Drake University
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311