Financier Walter Clark died at the age of 90, on November 15, 2018 at St. Joseph Hospital. His passing was announced by his family. “It is with deep regret that we inform you of the passing of our beloved husband, father, and family member, Walter Clark.”
Funeral Services were held Saturday, December 1, at the Congregational Church of Park Manor, 7000 S. King Drive.
Following the services, Clark was laid to rest at Oak Woods Cemetery,1035 East 67th Street.
Walter Clark was born June 5, 1928 in Athens, Georgia to John Q. Sr. and Beulah Clark (Hill). Clark was reared in Carbondale, Illinois. He graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting in 1951 and received an MBA in accounting from DePaul University in 1958. In 1971 he was conferred an Advanced Management Program (AMP) degree from the Harvard University School of Business.
Clark married Juanita Dillard in 1957. They became residents of the Chatham community where they raised two children, a son, Hilton Pierre, and daughter, Jaunine Charis.
One of the highlights of Clark’s storied and accomplished career was his election in 1986 as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Transit Authority. He accepted the position following a 30-year tenure with First Federal Savings & Loan/Citicorp.
The highly successful banking executive has been cited as “embodying the image of the self-made man,” by the HistoryMakers, a Chicago based organization dedicated to recording African American oral histories.
Clark’s innovative and pioneering practices ushered in the first Mortgage-Back Pass, through certificate of sale by a savings and loan at $75 million. In conjunction with investment bankers Salomon Brothers, Clark issued the City of Chicago, mortgage revenue bonds which were the first of the kind in the country. The City of Chicago utilized municipal bonds to fund low and moderate-income families, enabling the purchase of homes, underwritten by First Federal.
The groundbreaking banker’s impact on America’s savings and loan industry has been heralded as giving it, “a spirited nudge—a shove if you will,” according to a 1977 Chicago Sun-Times story. It details his tenure as executive vice president, chief financial officer, of the then eleventh largest savings and loan association, First Federal Savings & Loan Assn.
Clark was also characterized as being “a step or two ahead” in his career overall, while ranking as the highest-level African American S&L official in the nation at that time.
That distinction earned him the confidence of 12 chief financial officers of the nation’s largest savings and loans institutions under the banner of the US Savings & Loan Peer Group. The organization coordinates the industry’s best practices. They appointed Clark to a four-year term as the chairperson of the Peer Group.
His career portfolio includes appointments with other major financial and corporate institutions. At Bear Stearns, he served as vice president in public finance and asset management. In 1989, he participated in the successful effort to secure $150 million bond financing for the former Comiskey Park, now Guaranteed Rate Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox. In 1979, he was tabbed by President Jimmy Carter, to chair the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Washington, D.C. but did not accept the position due to family commitments.
Among Clark’s most notable civic involvements was his appointment as Finance Chairman of the Harold Washington for Mayor Campaign. There he employed a highly successful tactic of relying on small donations from grass roots donors, rather than large bundled campaign contributions. It resulted in the campaign garnering in part, necessary funds to elect Chicago’s first African American mayor. In 1980, Mayor Richard M. Daley recruited him to serve as a charter member of the School Finance Authority for the Chicago Board of Education, during a financial crisis at the Board.
Additional involvement in civic and philanthropic activities by Clark included chair of the Mayor’s Link-Development Committee for the City of Chicago. He Served on the Board of Directors for the College of Business Administration, for the University of Illinois at Champaign and Chicago. He chaired the Investment Committee of the venerable Union League Club of Chicago, among numerous other civic engagements.
Clark’s organizational memberships also included Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity; and the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, known as the Boulé, a non-college Greek-letter fraternity founded in 1904.
Walter Clark’s daughter Jaunine Charis Clark; his brother, John Q. Clark, Jr.; and his parents, John Q. Sr. and Beulah Clark, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife Juanita E. Clark; son, Hilton P. Clark; nephews Jeffrey Clark and Craig Lambert; nieces Bettyna Lambert Virgous, Randi Wilson, and Leslie Wilson.