Heman Robinson Clark ’37 died peacefully at his home in Raleigh, N.C., on Dec. 5. He was born Sept. 12, 1915, in Elizabethtown, N.C., to Jerome Bayard Clark and Helen Purdie Robinson Clark.
He will be long remembered for his gentle humor, his compassion, and his special ability to inspire others to serve the greater public good.
Clark received his A.B. degree from Davidson. Following in both his father’s and brother’s footsteps, he graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1940, where he was class president.
After passing the bar exam, he married and began raising a family in Fayetteville. His 67-year legal career flourished under the tutorship of his father, J. Bayard Clark, who served for 20 years as a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina.
Clark was a World War II veteran, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. He served as post judge advocate, stationed in Camp Blanding, Fla. At war’s end, Clark resumed the practice of law and then was selected as assistant solicitor in Cumberland County Superior Court. In 1958, Governor Luther Hodges appointed him as a superior court judge. After winning election to this position, he served until 1963.
He returned to the private practice of law and shortly thereafter began his 20-year service as Cumberland County attorney. He served as chairman of the Cumberland County Democratic Party for 10 years. In 1967, he was named North Carolina Outstanding County Attorney by the North Carolina Association of County Attorneys. He was also the president of the Cumberland County Bar Association and was inducted into the North Carolina Bar Association’s Legal Hall of Fame for General Practice. Clark and his first wife, Mary Read Harris, worked tirelessly for compassionate mental health reform.
Highland Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville was Clark’s lifelong foundation. In 1982, after the unexpected death of his first wife, Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. called Clark back to public service as secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. In 1984, he joined the law firm of Sanford, Adams, McCullough, and Beard where his primary focus was the government relations group.
Clark married Mary Jane Ethridge in 1991 after working with her on a judicial campaign in 1990. In 2005, Governor Michael F. Easley conferred upon him the state’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, for his “integrity, learning and zeal.”
He was preceded in death by his treasured wife of 40 years, Mary Read Harris, and two of his siblings, Martha Holton Clark Hutaff and Jerome Bayard Clark, Jr. Immediate family survivors include his devoted wife of 17 years, Mary Jane Ethridge Clark, 1407 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC 27608-1903; his three children of his first marriage, Mary Laurens Clark, Jerome Bayard Clark II, and Martha Holton Clark; his grandson, William Bayard Bondshu; and his sister, Helen Purdie Clark Jackson.