In Memoriam: Hays Clark


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death June 18, 2006 of Honorary Member of the Corporation Hays Clark of Hobe Sound, FL, of complications associated with conjunctive heart failure at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in Florida. He was 88.

Hays Clark had a long family association with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His maternal grandfather, David Hall McConnell, Sr. founded Avon Products, originally known as California Perfume Company, in 1886.  His father, W. Van Alan Clark, Sr., and mother, Edna McConnell Clark, were both generous benefactors and supporters of the Institution directly and through family foundations, making possible the development of the Quissett Campus, construction of the Central Laboratory (later dedicated the Clark Laboratory in their honor) and the education program. They were also among the founders of the Associates Program in the early 1950s.

Hays and his wife Rosamond continued the family support of WHOI, joining the Associates program in 1964.  Hays was elected a Member of the Corporation in 1980, was re-elected in 1986, and was elected an Honorary Member of the Corporation in 1988.  He and Ros were aboard for the maiden voyage of the Research Vessel Atlantis from the shipyard in Pascagoula, MS in 1997.  

Hays Clark was born in 1918 and grew up in Suffern, New York. He attended the Loomis Institute in Windsor, Connecticut, where he excelled in athletics, and graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1941.  He served on destroyers in the U.S. Navy during World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theatres and was discharged in 1945 as a Lieutenant Commander. While serving in the Navy, he earned three Navy and Marine Corps medals for bravery as a rescue diver.

Hays began a long career at Avon Products, Inc. in 1945 as an engineer in the Suffern, NY manufacturing plant. He became a division sales manager and subsequently a manufacturing manager. In 1960, he was elected corporate vice president in charge of the international division, and in 1965 became president of the international division. He was elected to the Avon Board of Directors in 1967, and in July 1968 was promoted to executive vice president. He retired from Avon in April 1976 after 30 years with the company.

Committed to education and giving underprivileged children a chance to succeed in life, Hays Clark served on the National Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He founded several local clubs and was actively involved with several others. He was honored for his contributions with the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award, the highest tribute the Boys and Girls Club of America can bestow on a volunteer.

For several years, he chaired the Board of Trustees of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and served on boards of Cornell University, the New York Cornell Medical Center, the Loomis Chafee School, and several other education, research, and philanthropic organizations. An avid sailor and explorer, he was elected Commodore of the Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich, CT, and was an active member of the New York Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, Jupiter Island Club (FL), University Club  (NYC), and the Round Hill Country Club (CT).  His ocean racing, cruising and exploring activities ranged from the Caribbean, Baffin Island and Newfoundland. In addition to sailing, he enjoyed golf and tennis.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Rosamond (Seidel) Clark of Hobe Sound, Florida; two sons, H. Lawrence Clark of Chevy Chase, MD, and Harris W. Clark of Dallas, TX; a daughter, Valerie Clark McNeely of Newtown Square, PA; a brother, James McConnell Clark of Palm Beach, FL and Woods Hole, MA (an Honorary Trustee and former Chairman of the Corporation of WHOI);  eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

A private family burial service will be held July 1 in Hobe Sound. A memorial service is being planned for November. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to local clubs of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Further information will be posted when available.


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Hays Clark on the maiden voyage of research vessel Atlantis in 1997. (Photo by Shelley Dawicki)