Blair Clark: Turtle Bay Enthusiast
BY WILLIAM E. CURTIS
I am sorry to report to the membership that Blair Clark, a longtime
director on the board of the Turtle Bay Association, and in fact,
the last of its founding members, died on June 6th. He was also
a longtime friend of mine and my wife Colleen (and was indirectly
responsible for our meeting each other).
In the course of doing the business of the board, I at times spoke
to Blair on a daily basis, and he was interested and active in,
not only the big issues of the board, but the day-to-day workings.
Always up for a neighborhood challenge, I can hear him say, "Be
proactive dear boy!" He did all of this with what another board
member called, "humor, tact, and wisdom."
I knew that Blair had been the head of CBS News, and that he regularly
consulted with Democratic politicians, both on the local and national
scenes. While I thought I knew Blair quite well, I only learned
at his memorial of the amazing wide-ranging influence his character
and lifework had on all the people around him. After seeing the
extraordinary number and breadth of family, friends, and others
from the world of journalism and broadcasting, I had to accept that
I had not really known the whole story of Blair Clark. (He owned
and rode a motorcycle at his Princeton home!)
TBA member Walter Cronkite has said that in the CBS years Blair
"was instrumental in assigning [him] to anchor the CBS Evening
News." Dan Rather said, "[Blair] laid the foundation for
the modern television era at CBS News." He played large and
pivotal roles in reporting on the Berlin Wall, the leaders of the
Soviet Union, and the Cold War.
Later, he was involved in Democratic campaigns for President,
most notably with Eugene McCarthy's unsuccessful bid.
He was associate publisher of The New York Post, editor of The
Nation, worked on projects for PBS, New York University, and Hunter
College, and chaired the Committee to Restore Roosevelt House.
Rose Dobrof, professor at Hunter College, said he was, "patrician
by birth, and reformer by spirit and style, writing and working
to correct inequities in our society."
It is clear that Blair was concerned enough about this nation
and its people to work actively in the country's political arena
to try to better it. But I do not think it started there for him,
as he had a much wider view of social concern than most of us. It
is apparent that it was important to him to sit on the board of
the Turtle Bay Association, and grapple with the concerns of local
community life. Blair liked to get a view of things from the grassroots
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Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community
224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
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