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James Wilson Clark, PPPL’s first deputy director for administrative operations, was a decorated World War II veteran, experienced federal administrator, and active member of the Princeton community

A memorial service for James Wilson Clark, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s first deputy director for administrative operations and an active member of the Princeton community and an executive at the federal Office of Management and Budget, will be held Saturday, Dec. 21, at 1 p.m. at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street,. 

Clark died on Aug. 6. He was 95. Clark was the deputy director for administrative operations from 1982 to 1990. When Jim Clark arrived,  the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at PPPL, the largest fusion experiment in the U.S., was transitioning from construction to research operations while PPPL continued to operate two major experiments, the Princeton Large Torus (PLT) and the Princeton Divertor Experiment (PDX).  At the time, there were more than 1,800 people working at PPPL with an annual budget of about $125 million per year. 

Dale Meade, then deputy head of TFTR, recalled that Clark arrived at a crucial time in PPPL’s history.  “Jim Clark was very firm leader as he focused on the future of PPPL’s management structure. He was one of the architects of the extensive laboratory reorganization that took place during the critical years from 1982-1985 as PPPL was challenged to evolve from the mid-scale research environment on PLT and PDX to the more structured management structure that was needed for the much larger and more complex TFTR,” Meade said. “TFTR would eventually operate as a low hazard nuclear facility with deuterium-tritium fuel. His experience as a high-level federal administrator was invaluable in establishing an effective working relationship with the Department of Energy, Congress and local officials.”

“Jim was well-respected for his work and for his calm manner dealing with the many issues that came to his attention,” said Rich Hawryluk, associate director for fusion.

“My father’s work at PPPL meant a great deal to him,” said Clark’s daughter, Susan Clark Randaccio. “He shared so much of his interest in the work with us and especially his deep respect for his  new colleagues. The Lab sparked his imagination in new ways and he loved to talk about the work being done and what he was learning and take us and others on tours to explain the research and the different machines.” Clark Randaccio said she did a summer internship at PPPL in the human resources department. Her daughter, Lauren Randaccio, who is finishing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University, toured PPPL a few years ago during a Women in STEM conference at Princeton University.

A decorated World War II veteran 

Born in Cleveland on Dec. 21, 1923, Clark attended Oberlin College until the U.S. entered World War II when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry. He served in Patton’s 3rd Army, Company I, 319th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, in France and in Germany. He was part of the Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns that liberated Buchenwald concentration camp and pushed toward Berlin where he was wounded in the chest and arm. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service and left his commission as a first lieutenant. 

Clark returned to Ohio, where he completed his college education at Oberlin, earning a degree in history. He went on to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he was part of the first master’s class, graduating with a master’s degree in public affairs in 1950. 

20 years in the federal Office of Management and Budget 

Clark served under five presidents in the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, and was responsible for the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Merchant Marine, the Air Force, and Defense R&D programs. He served for five years as director of International Programs, overseeing U.S. economic and military programs overseas.

After his public service career, Clark went on to work in strategic planning and management. He was director of strategic planning and product development for Chase Manhattan Bank and Chase Holding Co., where he launched the bank’s Chase Home Mortgage Corp. in 1978. 

During that time, he served on the boards of the Asia Foundation and as staff director of the Murphy Commission, the President’s Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy. 

After retiring from PPPL, Clark joined Mathtech Inc., as a senior associate, where he headed a team overseeing U.S. Agency for International Development-financed energy projects in Pakistan. 

He was involved in the community in Washington, D.C., and in Princeton, where he was active in the Princeton Nassau Presbyterian Church. He was a founding member of the Princeton Adult School and served on the boards of that organization and of the Robertson Foundation for the Woodrow Wilson School. 

Clark was married to Margaret Curtis Archer Clark for 62 years. He is survived by his three daughters, Margaret Custis Clark, Susan Clark Randaccio, and Archer Griffith; a brother, John Hunter Clark, 92; and five grandchildren.

Contributions in his honor may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, Honor and Memorial Donation, James W. Clark, https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate, or P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas, 66675-8517; or to the James Clark 50 Memorial Fund for students at the Woodrow Wilson School, https://makeagift.princeton.edu/MainSite/MakeAGift. (Click on the “in honor/memory of” box and indicate in the “special instructions and comments field” that the gift is for the James W. Clark 50 Memorial Fund, or Princeton University, Alumni and Donor Records, Att: Helen Hardy, P.O. Box 5357, Princeton, N.J. 08543-5347.

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which  is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visitenergy.gov/science.

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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