Virginia "Ginny" Clark Clarkson Hon. '89 (b. January 24, 1926), wife of Clarkson University Trustee Dr. Bayard "Barney" D. Clarkson Sr., M.D. '74 (Hon.) and mother of Clarkson Trustee Bayard D. Clarkson, Jr. passed away on Friday, December 20, 2019.
An educator, writer and civic-minded individual, Ginny was among the first women to become a member of New York City's Century Club, a literary and arts society. She also demonstrated her faith in education in a variety of contexts. A member of Thomas S. Clarkson's family tree, she was a strong proponent of Clarkson’s excellence and gave unselfishly of her time and insight toward the betterment of the University.
Ginny Clarkson was the author of four books of poetry: Edges; Without Rhyme, With Reason; Nevertheless and Furthermore and a children's book, The Alphabet of Civility. She celebrated “the habit of being curious” and lauded learning for its own sake, tenets that may be one source of the joy and satisfaction communicated in her writing.
“The University community extends its collective, deeply felt condolences to Barney, Bayard and the entire Clarkson family,” said Clarkson University President Tony Collins. “My wife, Karen, and I consider the opportunities we have had to spend time with Ginny to be among our most cherished memories at the institution she inspired over the years. Together, with the Clarkson community, we celebrate the joy of knowing Ginny.”
In her more than 50 years of association with the University, Ginny exerted her influence on the quality of student and campus life. In the mid-eighties, she organized a project to raise funds for flowering plants and trees that now enhance the campus. The canoes enjoyed by members of the Clarkson community on the Raquette River were a direct result of her generosity and interest in campus life. Her comments during the design phase of the Schuler Educational Resources Center encouraged reconsideration of the building's site, so as to allow users of the commons area to enjoy more fully the view of the Adirondack Mountains.
In 1989, Ginny was recognized by the University with an honorary doctorate for "her dedicated service and support of Clarkson University, and the good humor, patience and unflagging optimism that characterize her participation in the life of the institution that bears her name."
A 2017 Clarkson Board of Trustees resolution stated that Ginny and Barney had "contributed greatly to the governance, cultural vitality, growth and diversity of the institution that embraces the spirit of rigorous education, entrepreneurial competence, intellectual curiosity and practical research to serve humanity."
A graduate of Long Island University, where she received a bachelor of arts and a master’s degree in English, Ginny taught at the secondary school level, working with developmentally disabled children.
At the college level, she taught English and creative writing at C.W. Post College and Long Island University (LIU). She served as a trustee of St. John’s College and LIU, and as an advisor to Clarkson’s Campus Life Committee.
A commitment to education was also evident in her service in the Planned Parenthood organization in New York City and in her strong stance as an environmentalist.
A long-time Clarkson University Trustee and Past President of the Alumni Association James F. Wood ’64 captured Ginny perfectly when he said, “Ginny is a lovely and expressive woman, interested in everything she hears, sees and touches."
A service celebrating her life will be held in Long Island with her family members in January. A remembrance service will take place in Potsdam in May with the Board of Trustees and University Community. She will be buried in Bayside Cemetery, where the University’s namesake, Thomas S. Clarkson, and founders are also interred.
For more information, please contact Kelly Chezum, Vice President for External Relations and Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees, email@example.com; 315-268-4483.