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Brother John Clark ’61 saw an opportunity in his career to branch out on his own, and he jumped on it. For 15 years, John was President of his own company, which employed exactly one person—himself. John is still friends with several brothers and their wives today, and has made it a point over the years to organize reunions whenever possible. 

We recently sat down with John for a brief Q&A about his time in the chapter and what he’s been up  to since:

Q: I see that you are President of a company. Could you tell us about that?

A: The number of employees in my company is ONE. I had worked for other people for 35 years in sales and sales management of machine tools. Then, 15 years ago, a set of circumstances turned into an opportunity to move to my wife’s hometown of Waynesboro, Virginia.  And, at that very moment, an opportunity came up for me to branch out on my own. So, I left the company I worked for in Baltimore and started on my own distributing machine tools. I did that for 15 years, closed it, and retired in 2012. 

Q: Why did you join Delta Tau Delta at Kenyon in the first place?

A: I was a legacy.  My brother, Robert Clark ’56, [deceased 2016] was a Delt.  I entered as a freshman in 1957, having already been introduced to several upperclassmen.  I pledged Delt and have stayed a Delt forever.

Q: Do you stay in touch with any brothers?

A: I do stay in touch with the brothers. Many have remained lifelong friends.  Among them, my  roommate, Dale Bessell ’61 and his wife, Betty, Robert Thomas ’61 and his wife, Becky, and  David  Brown ’61 and his wife, Barbara. 

 We try to get together for mini-­reunions.  In the last 20 years, we’ve had four or five where all four couples got together and had a long weekend at someone’s home. 

My junior year I was Social Chairman of the college. I also was in charge of our 45th and 50th Class Reunions.  And, I put together a reunion at Kenyon in 2006, in memory of classmate, Bob Weidenkopf, an unusually vibrant man, who had passed away. He was the first to die of our little cadre of Delts, Betas and ADs, who played sports and tippled together.  So, Joey Adkins, Hutch Hodgson and I started out thinking “We’ll do a little something for Bob,” and we ended up with almost 50 people! 

Lisa Schott, a grand and special lady of Kenyon, drove it from Gambier and it was absolutely phenomenal. It turned out that the original venue wasn’t large enough to have the banquet meal and so, at the last minute, Lisa turned to and arranged for dinner to be served in Philomathesian Hall, which was the first ever catered meal in Philomathesian.

Tom Edwards and his wife, Gloria, were guests of honor. Tom joined Kenyon in 1957, as Dean of Students and Swimming Coach, our [and his] freshman year.   We were the first four-­year class to graduate under his tutelage and leadership.  So, over the years many have stayed friends with him  and we even held a reunion for him. He was truly an extraordinary man.

Q: What was your favorite memory from the chapter?

A: Camaraderie and the development of lifelong friends. When you peel back the layers of partying and what everyone always talks about, the core character, value and goodness of Kenyon people was unusual. It was an easy and productive thing to develop good friendships and keep them. 

Q: Did you learn any skills through DTD that helped push you to branching out into your own company?

A: To have a friend you must be a friend.  Living in close proximity required developing a mature and thoughtful respect for others.  Additionally, I think that the crux of academics and ‘learning for the sake of learning’ was key. Also, knowing you are on your own and, no matter what you do or don’t do, you own it. As a freshman, I needed time to adjust.  A powerful element of Kenyon was, if you do the work, you get to stay.   So, you either put your nose to the grindstone or you were gone. It took me some time to catch onto this,  but, then I was able to do the required work and stay.  The support and caring of many of the brothers along with that of professors and administrators was vital.

Q: What advice would you give to future members of DTD?

A: Save more money! [LoL].  Importantly though, savor every moment, thank the Lord and be thankful for the goodness of your fellow man. “Good things will happen if you just keep going.”

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