Kenneth Lowell Clarke

  • "am very sorry to hear of the loss of your loved one. One..."
  • "As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's..."
    - A. H.

Though his trademark reply when asked, "How are you?" was, "Adequate," Kenneth Lowell Clarke lived a more-than-adequate life full of love, hard work, and strong values. His reply showed a self-effacing man comfortable in his own skin, whose love and support for those close to him were unflagging. Ken was born to Dorothy and Lowell Clarke at home in eastern Fresno County. The family moved to Fresno when Ken was a toddler. Ken graduated from Clovis High School in 1951, then from Fresno State, where he earned a degree in Speech and Radio/TV. After two years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, he returned to a 35-year broadcast career in Fresno, beginning with FM radio before gravitating to television in the early 1960s. Ken started on Channel 30 in Fresno, then moved to Channel 24, the McClatchy station, where he remained for the next 26 years, establishing himself as one of the finest announcer-directors in the region. His face was rarely seen, but his voice was heard often in commercials and station breaks. He produced and directed thousands of newscasts, commercials, and other programming. Young broadcasters revered Ken as a mentor, receiving support and learning high standards of excellence from him. He was the quintessential behind-the-scenes pro who always made the people on screen look good. Ken became a leader in the broadcast performers' union in Fresno after his first marriage ended. In that union role, he met a young woman newscaster who worked at a rival station. In September 1973, he and Karen Humphrey, in Ken's words, "formed a union of their own." Karen eventually left TV and ran for public office, winning a Fresno City Council seat before becoming Fresno's first woman Mayor in 1989. Ken's support on the computer, at political events, and in the kitchen was essential to her success. They always considered themselves a team, with Ken holding the title of "world's best political spouse." After he retired and she left public office, Ken and Karen moved to Sacramento where she worked for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, and later for the state postsecondary education agency. Ken became less active as his health declined, but his support for progressive politics, equal rights, and honest caring politicians, especially women, never waned. He exemplified what women's rights activists spoke of as a "man of quality who is not threatened by women's equality." Ken is survived by his wife, Karen; daughters, Deborah Herrera (Fred), Diane Clarke (Kevin Roddy), and Denise Grisez (Stephen); grandchildren, Heather Burciaga (To¤o), Robert Herrera (Tiara), Mark Grisez, and Aaron Grisez; great-grand-children, Andrew, Anahi, and Abel Burciaga; former wife, Pat Clarke, extended family and friends. He was pre-deceased by his son, Dan. A celebration of Ken's life will be held Saturday, January 12, at 2:00 p.m., at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ken's name can be made to St. Mark's UMC ( or to the National Women's Political Caucus of California (
Published in The Sacramento Bee from Jan. 10 to Jan. 11, 2019