Memorial Minute

Bronson Clark,
October 6, 1918 - January 24, 2004

Bronson Clark was a beloved family man, Quaker leader, anti-war activist and successful businessman who dedicated his life to peace and justice in every arena. Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Bronson graduated from Antioch College and married Eleanor Meanor in 1941. Through work with the Fellowship of Reconciliation he became a conscientious objector, protested compulsory conscription in World War II, and was imprisoned for his beliefs.
In his memoir, Not By Might, Bronson quotes a letter he wrote from prison in 1944 to his infant daughter, Mallory, about his hope for her future: “I see a world of constant strife and conflict. Although it will be a much different world than we know now, there will be great need for those who preach love and non-violence.... We must fight against bitterness and hatred toward any man, and must always be ready to examine our own lives for evil, and we must always maintain a sensitive conscience toward the misery and suffering of our fellow man.” After release from prison Bronson joined the American Friends Service Committee Ambulance Unit in China. At the end of the war President Truman granted him a full pardon, restoring all his civil rights.

After several other AFSC assignments, he and Eleanor and their growing family then moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where until 1961 he ran a successful public housing building company. From Ohio Bronson returned to service with the AFSC in Morocco and Algeria, assisting refugees fleeing the Algerian War. Returning from Africa, he became Vice-President of Gilford Instrument Laboratories, a company that developed biomedical instruments for hospitals and research use.

From 1968 to 1974, covering the years of growing US involvement in the Vietnam conflict, Bronson served as Executive Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this service he spoke and traveled extensively, promoting humanitarian aid projects and activities against the war. These travels ultimately included a peacekeeping mission to Hanoi in 1973. During his time as AFSC Executive Secretary, he was also elected to the Council on Foreign Affairs and he led a Quaker delegation to the White House in 1969 to meet with Henry Kissinger.

Bronson was an avid sailor and always loved the sea. Upon retiring from the AFSC in 1974 he and Eleanor followed their love of sailing and moved to Vinalhaven, Maine. There he helped local fishermen on the island start up a cooperative fast-freezing operation called Fox Island Fisheries. The couple moved to Rockport, Maine, in 1980 and transferred their memberships from Germantown to Midcoast Friends Meeting in 1984. Bronson served on the Board of Directors of Moss Tents and was a founding member of the Midcoast Forum on Foreign Affairs, an organization that encourages political education and debate.

Following Eleanor’s death in 1987 Bronson reconnected with Harriet Warner of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a long-time family friend. They first met in Oberlin, Ohio, where Hattie worked with Eleanor on the local Head Start program. The two families became good friends in the years before the Clarks went to Philadelphia, and when Bronson and Eleanor traveled to Vietnam for six weeks in 1967, their daughter, Alison, stayed with Hattie and her family in Oberlin. Bronson and Hattie were married in 1989.

In the years that Bronson and Hattie had together, spending part of each year in Maine and part in North Carolina became the norm, visiting children and grandchildren en route. He was always very proud of his four daughters—Mallory, Jennifer, Melissa, and Alison—and of their accomplishments. Bronson was a regular seasonal member of Midcoast Meeting. He served on Ministry & Counsel and took an active role in the Monthly Meeting. During the last years of his deepening illness, Hattie was a loving, faithful caregiver, keeping in close touch with a wide circle of Bronson’s family and friends.

Bronson Clark will be remembered by all who were fortunate enough to know him. He was a man of piercing intellect, driving energy, and notable accomplishments, with a delightfully dry wit and a huge measure of compassion. The Meeting will miss him sorely.

Approved by Midcoast Monthly Meeting May 21, 2004, Barbara K. Foust and Ernest E. Foust, Co-clerks