Joe Louis Clark
1937 - 2020
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Joe Louis Clark
Newberry - Joe Clark, Paterson, New Jersey's "Principled Principal," Has Passed Away The No-Nonsense Educator was a Mentor for Students to Lean On.
Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding Principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods at Paterson, New Jersey's Eastside High School inspired the 1989 film "Lean on Me," has passed away. A longtime resident of South Orange, NJ, Clark (83) retired to Gainesville, Florida. He was at home and surrounded by his family when he succumbed to his long battle with illness of December 29, 2020.
Born in Rochelle, Georgia, on May 8, 1937, Clark's family moved north Newark, New Jersey, when he was six years old. It was in the Garden State that Clark built his legacy through both his accomplished career in education and his children: Olympian and businesswoman Joetta Clark Diggs, Olympic Athlete and Bermuda Tourism executive Hazel Clark, and accomplished athlete and Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Stanford University Joe Clark, Jr.
A Legacy of Laying Down the Law
After graduating from Newark Central High School, Clark continued on to achieve his bachelor's degree from William Paterson College (now William Paterson University) a master's degree from Seton Hall University, and an honorary doctorate from the U.S. Sports Academy.
Clark's post-collegiate career as a U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant and Drill Instructor engrained in him the respect for order and achievement, which came to define his more than three-decade career in education.
First serving as Paterson grade schoolteacher and the Director of Camps and Playgrounds in Essex County, NJ, Clark soon found his calling in administration as Principal of PS 6 Grammar School. Under Clark's command, the once failing school was transformed into the "Miracle of Carroll Street."
Committed to the pursuit of excellence, Clark greeted the challenges presented to him following his appointment as the Principal of crime and drug-ridden Eastside High School with eager optimism. In one day, he expelled 300 students for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers, and drug possession and lifted the expectations of those that remained, continually challenging them to perform better. Roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, Clark's unorthodox methods won him both admirers and critics nationwide. Steadfast in his approach, Clark explained that the bat was not a weapon but a symbol of choice: a student could either strike out or hit a home run.
Impressed by the expeditious changes imparted on the troubled school, President Reagan offered Clark a White House policy advisor position. Clark's dedication to his students and community led him to decline the prestigious honor, and his larger-than-life career continued to spark conversations across the country. Clark appeared on programs including 60 Minutes and The Arsenio Hall Show and was featured on Time Magazine's cover before the motion picture "Lean On Me," starring Morgan Freeman memorialized his work.
After he retired from Eastside in 1989, Clark worked for six years as the Director of Essex County Detention House, a juvenile detention center in Newark. He also wrote Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark's Strategy for Saving Our Schools, detailing his methods for turning around Eastside High School and how they can be applied to combat crime, permissiveness, and academic decline in schools nationwide. Nearly thirty years after his retirement, Clark's captivating career offered inspiration to executive directors John Legend and LeBron James for a television series, reflecting his philosophies' generational transcendence.
Predeceased by his wife, Gloria, Clark's legacy as an influential educator and father of New Jersey's most storied track and field family lives on through his children, Joetta, Hazel, and JJ, and grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell, and Hazel.
Stepchildren; Cheryl E Norman, Victoria D Norman Brown, Judith I. Norman, and grandchildren; Uma Ali, Carla Jasmine, Jason Lee, Satchel, and Cole Brown.
A celebration of Joe's Life and Legacy will be held Monday, January 4, 2021 at 12:00 Noon at Jonesville Baptist Church Newberry, with Pastor Corey Cheramie. Burial to follow at Forest Meadows West.
Please visit his memorial page at www.williamsthomasfuneralhome.com
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
WILLIAMS-THOMAS WESTAREA
352-376-7556

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Gainesville Sun from Dec. 30, 2020 to Jan. 2, 2021.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
JAN
4
Celebration of Life
12:00 PM
Jonesville Baptist Church Newberry
Memories & Condolences
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70 entries
January 22, 2021
Prayers and Blessings
Valenda Newell
January 18, 2021
Sincere condolences to the Clark Family. May Almighty God in the Heavens comfort all who is the hearer of prayers be with you in your time of need with his loving kindness and peace as He strengthens you during this difficult time as you cope with this precious loss in your lives. May family, friends and extended family cherish his memories. Thank you for Mr. Joe Clark's contribution in educating New Jersey's youth.
Tony
January 7, 2021
God is a God of all Comfort and he will Comfort the family's..My heartfelt condolences..
January 5, 2021
My deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Joe Clark. My high school principal. What an amazing model of EXCELLENCE you were to me and both of my brothers. You raised the standard for all of us.. some didn’t rise but most of us did .. this went WAY beyond high test scores. Our esteem levels our belief in our ability to do great things .. you planted a seed of greatness in the 1000’s of students hearts that walked the Halls of Eastside High School. In my class .. your FAVORITE class of 87.. we are full of hard working citizens. Some principals, doctors, lawyers, civil servants.. entertainers, you name the field and we are in it. Although everyone talks about your toughness you provided major avenues for clean fun for us ... namely allowing people to come to the school for concerts for out entertainment.. LL Cool J, Run D Mc and others. I just want to say THANK YOU and your work was not in vain Rest Well Sir❤
Andrea R
Student
January 5, 2021
My condolences to the Clark family. I was so inspired by this man and his life. What an inspiration he has been to so many people. God rest his soul.
Brenda Phillips
January 5, 2021
To Hazel and the Clark family my deepest condolence may Joe Clark R.I.P.
Annette Jeter
Friend
January 5, 2021
To JJ, Jearl and the Clark family, so sorry for your loss.
Debra Lamar-Randolph
Friend
January 5, 2021
My condolences go out to the family of Joe Clark. He leaves a legacy. So sorry for your loss.
LeeRoy
January 4, 2021
Rest well Mr. Joe we will forever be grateful of your work at eastside hight love the movie....Geraldine Carter
Geraldine Carter
Friend
January 4, 2021
The day we tarie is the day we loose. O how chicago could have used a man like you in there schools. What a great leader. Iam so proud to have known your life story. Thank you. W.L.W.
William Willard
January 4, 2021
Thank you for being an awesome role model in community, education, for so many. We have your movie Lean on Me displaying accountability, respect, and going the extra mile looks like.
You left a mark for other to follow your example and also set the standards in so many other professions.
Fair East SiiiiIDE! Lean on to VictorRRY!
Rest In Heavenly Peace
April J.
January 4, 2021
I was so sad when I saw it all over the news that Mr. Clark has passed away, he was my Principal at EastSide High School in Paterson New Jersey. He was a great Principal, he had a great memory, he memorized every student's name at EastSide High School. I was shocked the first time he called me by my name, I was walking in one of the hallways on my way to my next class and there was Mr. Clark with his megaphone. I have always been so proud he was my Principal, I always bragg to friends and coworkers he was my Principal and I'll never forget the day he handed me my diploma on graduation day. RIP Mr. Clark, thank you for the amazing changes you made in East Side High School and I am so honored that I attended East Side High when you were the Principle
Maria Sofia Acevedo Crawford
Student
January 4, 2021
Darryl and I send the Clark family our deepest sympathies. We knew Mr. Clark through his wife and Darryl's mother (Gloria Clark and Delia Long were friends and church members at Ft. Clarke MBC). We enjoyed the few brief and heart-felt conversations we had with him in the parking lot at Publix (smile). He earned our respect and love, and certainly our appreciation for his strength of character. He may have seemed larger than life but was easy to talk to and get to know. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and know Mr. Clark. He will be truly missed. Prayers and Blessings to the family!
Darryl and Pat Williams.
Patricia Williams
Acquaintance
January 4, 2021
The Clark family are in my Prayers!
Justin Patterson
Friend
January 4, 2021
I express my sincere condolence to the family of joe Louis for their loss we pray that may they God who comforts us all in our distress comfort the family
Maureen
January 4, 2021
Sending love to the family from my 98 year old grandmother, Ernestine Roberts, who help raise Uncle Joe and family whom he called Mama Roberts. He was sure to send flowers for her birthday and holidays along with the occasional calls until he got ill. My Mom, Eleanor who was Joe's sister Genieva's best friend from age 7 is mourning the lost and realizing the entire generation of the Clark's are now all gone. Her neighbors who became family. May Uncle Joe's legacy continue to live on and may he continue to be an inspiration to educations thoughout the land...Vesta Godwin Clark...
vesta godwin clark
Family
January 3, 2021
We here at Ellison Laundromat of Patterson, NJ would like to extend our condolences to the honorable Mr. Joe Clark. Even though Ellison Laundromat was not black-owned or probably in business during the time of Mr. Clark’s employment at Eastside High School. As a black owned business, we will be honoring and help passing on Mr. Joe Clark’s Legacy by encouraging the youth and not giving up. God bless you and may you sleep in peace. I was only 6yrs old when I found out about you through the amazing movie “Lean On Me” — one of my staff mentioned that the school is in Paterson NJ. I wish we have crossed paths because your philosophy when it comes to our children future is quite the same. I have some of them shadowing me when I am on site, I will see to it that they learn of you and your amazing, inspirational ways of life’s journey to success. — David A. Charles, Sr.
David Charles
Acquaintance
January 3, 2021
Your methods were through love. Wish this country had more dedicated men and women to teach motivation love and success!! Thank you for your courage. Great man!
Joyce Ranucci
January 3, 2021
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Claudia L Mceady
Friend
January 3, 2021
A debt of gratitude to Mr. Clark for his hard work and dedication to education and his belief in young people. To the Clark family, my deepest sympathies, may God carry you as you endure this most difficult time of your loss.
R B
January 2, 2021
My deepest condolences to the Clark family. May you find comfort in your treasured memories of Joe and May God continue to comfort you in the days, months and years ahead. Psalms 119:76
January 2, 2021
Never knew you ,wish I did . The world was gifted with you in it .
January 1, 2021
Exquisite Tribute Standing Spray
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Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Ashley Crawley
January 1, 2021
The life and career of Dr. Joe Clark inspired me to become a teacher when I learned about him from the movie Lean on Me. His passion for education and excellence endures to this day and beyond. Prayers of healing for his children, grandchildren, family, and friends.

❤,
Dr. Bridgette Yancy
Bridgette L Yancy
Teacher
January 1, 2021
My prayers and condolences to the family,
Rosa Freeman
Friend
January 1, 2021
Our Sincere Condolences to the family
Tracy Robinson Sostand-Broussard
Acquaintance
January 1, 2021
Your story was such an inspiration. Your legacy will live forever. Rest Well and fly high. My condolences to your family
Maria Moore
January 1, 2021
Kent & Carol Sivadge
January 1, 2021
Truly one of a kind, a remarkable and unforgettable person. May the peace of God be with the Clark family.
January 1, 2021
I rely love Joe Clark’s method. We pray that God continues to strengthen and comfort the family during this extremely difficult time.
January 1, 2021
May the love of friends and family and God’s comfort, carry you through your grief.
January 1, 2021
My since condolences to the Clark family. The movie that inspired his life will always be a classic. May the God of all comfort provide you all the strength to cope with your loss
TD
January 1, 2021
DID NOT KNOW MR. CLARK PERSONALLY, BUT KNEW WHAT HE DID AS A PERSON,WE NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE HIM TODAY. JOE ALERCIA BETHLEHEM PA
JOE ALERCIA
December 31, 2020
I remember Mr. Clark speaking at Fellowship Baptist Church for one of my children's graduation. He was an amazing man and you could tell by listening to him that he loved children. All children. He wanted to see them be successful and if it meant being a little harder on them to get them there, that is what he did. He will be remembered with love and respect. To his family, thank you for sharing him with the rest of the world.
Emelie Matthews
Acquaintance
December 31, 2020
Rest in Heavenly Paradise Mr. Clark...”Lean On Me”! Thoughts and Prayers to the Family.
Westwood Area Memphis, TN
December 31, 2020
I will never forget when Mr. Clark came to speak to my son's middle school class at Hoggetowne Middle School in Gainesville a few years ago. Kids were so mesmerized and energized with his words of encouragement!! Prayers and comfort to the Clark Family.
RIP Mr. Clark.
Jackie Jackson, MD
Acquaintance
December 31, 2020
Mr.Clark has made an impact on the lives of many and remain in there memories ,and I hope that your fond memories will comfort you during your soorow.
Sarah
December 31, 2020
My condolences.
December 31, 2020
To The Family of Mr. Joe Clark:

What a legend and legacy Mr. Clark has left. May God Bless you all and give everyone peace comfort and understanding!! He has certainly earned his rest!!
Dr. Donna Wintons-James
December 31, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Leona McClendon Williams
December 31, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful educator... May the Lord comfort family and friends.
Will Hargrove. Gary, IN
December 31, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Jacquelyn Williams
Acquaintance
December 31, 2020
It was an honor and pleasure to be one of his teachers. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. RIP boss.
Louise Vos
Teacher
December 31, 2020
Truly an amazing inspiration for so many. The hard work and dedication of Joe Clark benefited so many, he will be missed. My sincere condolences to the Clark family, may God be with all of you as you go through such a difficult time.
December 31, 2020
HEARTFELT❤
ERNESTINE DORSEY
Friend
December 30, 2020
It was areal pleasure 2 meet Joe Clark . He was a real inspiration 2 me and will always be . His inspiration will always leave a legacy that can't be explained , but will always be inspired even from heaven he's still an inspiration , because you can't forget a real legendary that leaves a legacy for us 2 be a legend 2. R.I.P. Joe Clark.
Jason Davis
December 30, 2020
Dear Clark Family,

I like to say Mr Clark was an honest man, and you knew, he word was in his handshake, not many like him today sadly.
Sincerely,

Matt Anderson from the 1980's


Matt Anderson
Teacher
December 30, 2020
❤ Heartfelt Condolences ♥
Ross Brothers' Family
Friend
December 30, 2020
We loved the movie and the man who inspired it. Joe Clark was a true educator who cared for the students. May God comfort the family, friends, and admirers and may you hold your memories close to your heart.
Mary
Neighbor
December 30, 2020
He was a wonderful and inspiring person. I had the good fortune to be in the audience in Houston, Texas where he was the guest of honor in 1982. He spoke at the National Black Police Association conference.
Harry Hayes
December 30, 2020
Thank you Joe, I never met you. But I grew up in New Jersey. And I appreciate what you did. You were sent from the Lord, no doubt in my mind. Bless your family.!
Tony Galvan
Father
December 30, 2020
Dear Clark Family Rory and I deeply express our condolences's on the loss of Joe Clark and he'll surely be missed very very much and may he rest in peace.best faith/rory
faith/rory tobin/dockett
Acquaintance
December 30, 2020
Alishia
December 30, 2020
We need more Principals and teachers like Principal Joe Clark. He cared enough to try and make a difference for young people. I know the family has to be absolutely proud. Please accept my sincere sympathy for your loss. May God grant the family peace and comfort.
Lindsey
December 30, 2020
Mr. Clark, you made the difference, Rest in Peace
Frank Aguirre
Friend
December 30, 2020
Peace be Upon Mr. Joe Clark.Inspiration and His(s)tory ...
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Brenda D.
December 30, 2020
Joe Clark was a tough, but caring Principal. I spent 44 years teaching in a secondary private school and many of the tactics used by Mr. Clark, I used in my classes. I remember getting in some trouble now and then, but my Principal stood behind me. Mr. Clark was a person I could have worked for. It is too bad that Mr. Clark has passed on. The world lost a real educational warrior. I think his motto would have gone something like this: Be fair, have standards, be accountable, never miss a day of school, and work like hell in your classroom!! Mike Curry

Mike Curry
Teacher
December 30, 2020
Godspeed Joe. You did it the right way. Courageous and unforgettable.

Rest Joe, until you hear at dawn,
the low, clear reveille of God.

Thank you for your service to this nation. U.S. Army Reserves.
Harry Simpson
December 30, 2020
God certainly molded a man with wisdom and knowledge. He taught a great lesson for us, young and old to live by. May God bless his family abundantly. I always admired his character. He truly was a role model.
Shirley B. Caldwell
December 30, 2020
He gave his all To
improve the school
System and the students to try harder. It worked.
Be proud Sir. Job well
Done, now it’s time for you
To rest with the
Lord.
December 30, 2020
Dearest Joetta, Hazel, and JJ,
I am saddened to learn about the death of your dear dad, and I send my deepest condolences and sympathy. Mr. Clark’s legacy as an influential educator continues. He dedicated his life to educating youth and by extension adults. He created a culture of respect toward teachers and learning, and because of this he helped to turn many lives around to perform better.

Thank you, Mr. Clark for your devotion to learning and being “fiercely devoted to the students in [your] care.” We may never know exactly how many “lives [you] influenced for the better” because each person who learned from you is teaching it to someone else. Thus, your legacy continues.

Joetta, Hazel, JJ, and all family, may your treasured good memories provide comfort for you. May prayers strengthen you and God’s loyal love always comfort and sustain you. Psalm 23
December 30, 2020
We need more like him more than ever today...truly a hero. RIP Mr. Clark
Floyd Reiske
December 30, 2020
Scott Chamberland
December 30, 2020
What an inspiration to so many in the educational community, I am so proud of his work and legacy. He truly cared and made a difference in so many lives. I am praying that the God of tender mercy gives his loving family strength and hope.
Alex Johnson
December 30, 2020
He did good work at Eastside High. My condolences to his family.
Victoria Blizzard
Friend
December 30, 2020
Thank you for raising standards for high schools everywhere. My son Leroy was a student of yours and went to college because you were so strict. You uplifted your community and inspired millions to strive for more. God bless you and your family, you truly made a difference .
Marie Halsey
December 30, 2020
Joe Clark was an inspiration to many to accomplish things that many thought could not be done. My condolences to the family and may all of you receive comfort and strength from the "God of all comfort" in your time of sorrow.
pt
December 30, 2020
Sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Joe Clark. Mr. Clark will be remembered for his stand on the value of education for everyone . No matter the circumstances. Tough love is sometimes needed. May the God of comfort and peace strengthen you during this difficult time.
JE Sowell
December 30, 2020
Mr. Clark, You were a breath of fresh air at a time when things were going amuck. I wish there were more like you then, now and in the future. Thank you for the help and inspiration you gave the youth and parents of this country.
RJ Henry
RJ Henry
December 30, 2020
love Lean on Me watch it now like I never seen it millions of time, Praying for your Family and those that followed you Take your rest Joe Clark AKA Mr. Eastside High School.
JANICE M DOUGLAS-HARRISON
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