By Thomasina Cotton / Staff Writer
Respected LBCC Board Vice President and Area 5 representative Dr. Thomas J. Clark will retire at the end of his fourth term, Tuesday, July 29.
Clark has devoted his 16 years on the Board to promoting an environment of success for LBCC students who he said “are the priority.”
Clark dedicated almost 50 years to public service and steered several committees. For 30 years he was on the Long Beach City Council and has held the record for the city’s longest-serving councilman.
During his time on the council, he was elected mayor by his peers and served three terms while also operating his Los Altos optometry practice. After 40 years, he retired his practice in 1993.
Fellow Trustee Roberto Uranga described Clark as a Long Beach icon with a passion for student success. He said, “I am indebted to Dr. Clark. I wish him all the best as he moves on to the next phase of his life. Thank you, Dr. Clark, for your service.”
Student Trustee Andrea Donado, 28, a gender studies major, said despite voting differences, she appreciates the advice and mentorship Clark provided her. Donado said, “We had some great conversations. He has done a lot of positive things for the community and it’s time for him to relax.”
Clark said his motto is to “stay active” and despite declaring an official retirement, he plans to continue on the LBCC Foundation board working toward student scholarships.
Director of Student Relations Alicia Kruizenga said, “I believe he will continue to support LBCC students long after he is retired. He established his family’s scholarship in 1998 and has been active in many of the Foundation fundraising events.
“The Clark-Olney scholarship is a testament to Dr. Clark’s belief in our students and helps those transferring.”
Executive Director of the Foundation Board Virginia Baxter, who will replace Clark on the Board, said, “He has been a wonderful member and he cares a great deal about the students.”
Shortly after graduating from high school, Clark entered the military and at the end of his two- year service he ranked as an Army staff sergeant. He then enrolled at LBCC and earned his associate of arts degree in 1948.
At U.C. Berkeley, Clark furthered his education, earning his bachelor of science in 1950, his doctor of optometry in 1951 and his master of science degree in 1952.
For his academic accomplishments and esteemed career, Clark was inducted into the LBCC Hall of Fame in 1976. In 2007, he was recognized for his talent in track and field and was inducted into the LBCC Hall of Champions.
ASB President Marco Mendoza, 20, a sociology major, said, “Dr. Clark has been a great source of knowledge. Last semester, he came to an ASB Cabinet meeting and spoke about his lifelong career as an elected official. It was great to hear him speak and have him spend time with us.”
Clark said he will miss being on the Board, but is proud of what they have accomplished. He recalled the public support received for the bond measures of 2002 and 2008 in which millions of dollars were raised for construction and renovations on the PCC and the LAC.
Clark said, “It has been a big asset to the college.
“I’m sure the Board will continue helping students go on to four-year colleges and begin their careers. Our job is to see that the student who wants to complete a course get that associate of arts degree or vocational license.”
Fellow Trustee Doug Otto said, “No one has contributed more to Long Beach in the past 50 years than Tom Clark. We will miss him when he retires.”
Board President Jeff Kellogg agreed and dubbed Clark “a role model for public service.”
Clark is the father of three. His eldest son Paul is an attorney and LBCC alumnus, his son Jim is a teacher and father of 8-year-old twins, and daughter Carol Quinlan is an LBCC alumna who works for a popular telecommunications company.
He was married for 54 years to wife Lois, a medical librarian who died in 2006. “She was a very fine lady,” Clark said.
Jackie Hann, secretary for the Board of Trustees, has spent a decade working with Dr. Clark and said, “Tom has always been gracious and kind and I am truly going to miss him. His footprints are here forever.”
President Eloy Oakley credits Clark’s vision and drive in helping to make LBCC a world-class learning institution. “We thank him for his work as we wish him the best times in his retirement.”