VINELAND — City leaders said the recent of death of Samuel L. Clark has deprived he municipality of a plain-speaking, caring man who stood up for all local residents for decades.
The 89-year-old Clark died on Saturday at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home.
Local officials said Clark was a community activist during the more than three decades he lived in Vineland.
He belonged to many organizations, including the Vineland Community Dispute Resolution Committee, the Cumberland County Human Relations Commission and the state Human Relations Commission advisory board. Clark was also a life member and former president of the Cumberland County branch of the NAACP.
Local officials said Clark’s work earned him the respect of more than just the city’s and county’s African-American population.
Clark’s work was so well respected that the city in 2003 named a park near Third and Plum streets in his honor.
“He was straight-shooter to the nth degree,” said Perry Barse, who was mayor when the park was named in Clark’s honor. “He worried about Vinelanders all of the time and wanted to see justice done. He was a tremendously positive influence on our city.”
Mayor Robert Romano said he appointed Clark to his human relations committee after he was elected in 2008.
“He was always out there supporting the community,” Romano said.
Romano said Clark was also a good friend of his family, and once ran for City Council on a ticket headed by his father, Joseph Romano. Clark was the only member of the City Council ticket who was not elected, he said.
Romano also related a poignant memory about Clark.
“When my dad was sick, and during his last few days, he was up at my dad’s house,” Romano said.
City officials said funeral services will be held at noon Saturday at New Bethel A.M.E. Church on North Seventh Street.
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