Senator James Clark, Jr. was Maryland’s Senate President from 1979-1983 and served as an elected official for parts of four decades. Before all of that, however, he felt a need to join in the fight for freedom in World War II, volunteering for service in the United States Air Force upon his graduation from college. He’d serve for four years in the 442nd Troop Carrier Group of the 303rd Squadron and return home near the final conclusion of the war in 1945.
Born in 1918 to federal judge James Clark Sr. and Johns Hopkins descendant Alda Hopkins Clark, James Jr. spent his formative years at Keewaydin Farm in Ellicott City. The third of four sons born to the couple, young James would begin a life of service at an early age.
James would attend Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Virginia where he would graduate in 1936. He’d go on to Iowa State College in 1947 where he’d receive a degree in animal husbandry in 1941.
Upon his return home from military service in 1945, Clark would put his education to work. He’d marry the former Lillian Hawkins in 1946 and they’d move back to his family farm property and begin their life together. They’d ultimately raise cattle and run a dairy operation in addition to welcoming four children (Mark, Priscilla, Martha Anne, and Jaime).
Clark would begin his tenure in public service upon taking office in the House of Delegates in 1959 where he’d serve for one term until moving to the State Senate in 1963. Clark would then serve in the Senate from 1963 until 1986 and concurrently as Maryland’s Senate President from 1979-1982.
As Senate President, he’d prove a steady hand leading Maryland from the 1970s into the 1980s and was known for his dedication to civil rights, fiscal responsibility, and responsible budgeting. Recognized nationally, he’d be selected to serve as a member of the President’s Commission on Pension Policy by President Jimmy Carter and also serve as the Chairman of the National Balance the Budget Amendment Committee.
Clark would retire from the Maryland Senate in 1986 and return back home to his farm in Ellicott City. He’d stay active in his community as both a Board Member of The Columbia Bank and as the President of the Howard County Conservancy. He’d pass away in 2006 leaving behind a life-long legacy of service to all Marylanders.