Cover photo for William A. Clark's Obituary
William A. Clark Profile Photo
1928 William 2021

William A. Clark

August 27, 1928 — October 1, 2021

William Alfred Clark, age 93, died on Friday, October 1, 2021 at home surrounded by his family. A life-long Dayton resident, Bill was born on August 27, 1928 to Webb and Dora Clark. Educated in the Dayton public schools, Bill graduated from Fairview High School in 1946 before heading north to Ann Arbor, Michigan where, like his father before him, he received his undergraduate degree (A.B. 1950) and law degree (J.D. 1952) from the University of Michigan.
Bill’s success at the University of Michigan was the result of his strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity and a commitment to excellence. Bill’s liberal arts education sparked an enduring passion for the study of history, reflected most prominently in his expertise regarding the U.S. Civil War and the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. Bill was also a quarterback on Michigan’s first and only 150-pound football team in 1947 and 1948. As a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, Bill made many deep and lasting friendships. Most importantly, at Michigan Bill met, fell in love with, and married Catherine (“Cathy”) Clark, who shared – most of the time – his love for Michigan football (joining Bill at many of the 72 consecutive Michigan-Ohio State games he attended in person from 1946 to 2018).
Bill enjoyed a remarkable legal career spanning 54 years until his retirement in 2006. After graduating from Michigan Law School, Bill served as a military lawyer in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corp, stationed primarily at Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, Illinois. Returning to Dayton in 1954, Bill had hoped to fulfill a dream he shared with his father of practicing law together. Instead, the untimely death of Bill’s father at the age of 57 led Bill to take over his father’s law practice, consisting of a wide range of matters for individual and small business clients.
Bill developed and maintained a reputation for honesty, integrity, and excellent work. In addition to his own law practice, Bill served early in his career as an elected Judge for Montgomery County and an Assistant Ohio Attorney General. These experiences, together with his later stints at large and small law firms in Dayton, instilled in Bill a love and respect for the law that flourished throughout his life. Bill’s sterling reputation and professional accomplishments, both inside and outside the courtroom, led to his appointment in 1985 as a federal judge on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Ohio.
Bill’s time on the bankruptcy court from 1985 to 2006 was the pinnacle of his legal career. During his tenure, which included time as the Chief Bankruptcy Judge from May 1, 1993 to April 29, 1999, Bill served with distinction, inspired by esteemed judicial colleagues, as well as practitioners representing debtors and creditors. Bill was enormously proud to be a judge and a lawyer, viewing his service as a privilege that carried significant responsibilities: to respect the rule of law; to act always with integrity; to represent clients fully and fairly; and to honor a legal system founded on the principles of the Magna Carta and the protection of individual rights.
Bill was an active Dayton booster with memberships and leadership positions in many civic organizations, including the Rotary Club of Oakwood (where Bill was a Paul Harris Fellow), the Bicycle Club, the Dayton Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Association, and the Lincoln Society of Dayton. Bill played a vital role in the commissioning and dedication of the Abraham Lincoln statue that now stands in Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. Bill traveled with Cathy as representatives of Friendship Force Dayton, a global non-profit that promotes cultural understanding through sponsored friendship tours. Bill was also a long-time member, usher and trustee at Christ United Methodist Church in Kettering.
Bill lived his life with a nearly unmatchable “carpe diem” enthusiasm. In his late 30s, he broke his ankle while sliding into third base – in a church softball game – and then proceeded to argue with the umpire about the “out” call as he was being carried off the field. Bill, a regular on the Hollinger tennis courts in Oakwood, played tennis to the age of 89, even then displaying a fierce competitive spirit that is best captured by his trademark Clark family motto, “Try, try, try!” In 2019, at the age of 91, Bill made one last trip to Michigan Stadium to cheer his beloved Wolverines on to victory.
Above all else, Bill is remembered as a devoted husband, a family man, a role model, a person who always made time for others. He laughed easily, loudly, and often, whether in the middle of one of his comedic performances (his “Elmer and the Bear” is a classic); watching over and over again the same 12 episodes of the British television comedy “Fawlty Towers”; or playing Thanksgiving touch football with family and friends. Bill demonstrated his deep love for his four daughters throughout his life by, among other things, teaching them how to throw a perfect spiral, how to walk proudly wearing maize and blue in a town/state full of Ohio State fans, and how to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life with enthusiasm and humility.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Webb and Dora Clark, and his beloved younger brother Robert (Bob). He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Catherine C. Clark; his four daughters: Mary (son-in-law Gary Youra); Jenny (son-in-law Jeff Kinder); Cindy (son-in-law Bob Regan); and Wendy (late son-in-law Stuart Bell); his eight grandchildren -- Kathryn Youra Polk (Brian Polk); Emily Nye Snyder (Ryan Snyder); William Kinder (Rebecca Broches); Natalie Kinder Gallagher (Jack Gallagher); Thomas Regan (Whitney Rutherford Regan); Peter Regan; Levon Bell; and Hank Bell; and his six great-grandchildren (Yvonne and Jocelyn Polk; Adam and Ilana Snyder; Sadie Kinder; and Olivia Gallagher).
The family will hold a private funeral service on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, with burial to follow at David’s Cemetery in Kettering. A public celebration of Bill Clark’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 4, 2021 at Christ United Methodist Church, 3440 Shroyer Road, Kettering. All who are fully vaccinated are welcome to attend; masks are also requested.
The family wishes to express its gratitude to Graceworks of Bethany Village for the wonderful assistance they provided these past months. Friends may make memorial contributions in Bill Clark’s name to Graceworks Compassion Fund, 6430 Inner Mission Way, Dayton, OH 45459 or the Lincoln Society of Dayton, PO Box 658, Dayton OH 45409. We also encourage friends to share memories and condolences by signing the Guestbook at

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life Memorial Service

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Christ United Methodist Church

3440 Shroyer Rd, Dayton, OH 45429

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