David Bruce Clarke
May 18, 1945 – February 9, 2021
David “Dave” Bruce Clarke, age 75, of Newton, NC, passed away Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory. Born May 18, 1945 in Buncombe County, NC, he was the son of the late Ben Hugh and Marie Haynie Clarke. He was an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Newton, and a long-time elder within the Presbyterian Church.
A native of Asheville, NC, but moved to Chapel Hill at age 9, Dave holds a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the School of Business Administration at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. This prestigious program was among the first of its kind in the nation, and has served as a model for many other health management programs. His bachelor’s degree is from Elon College in Elon, NC.
Dave was the former CEO of Catawba Regional Hospice, now Carolina Caring. He leaves a legacy of generosity and servant leadership that will continue to profoundly impact the organization and community for years to come.
He devoted a large part of his career to raising the profile of hospice and palliative care knowing that the benefits of these services are often underutilized by many who need them. By distinguishing himself as a forward-thinking executive, he successfully integrated hospice education into the local healthcare landscape while growing Catawba Regional Hospice exponentially during his tenure.
Dave’s leadership style built strong resilient teams and an organizational culture that provided exceptional care and consistently gave more than expected. Dave retired as CEO on December 31, 2016. He continued working as a consultant until January 18, 2018. Following his retirement, Carolina Caring established the David B. Clarke Service Before Self Award, which is given annually to an employee who exemplifies trust, integrity, and excellence in their work.
“Dave was a visionary, a trailblazer and a friend who paved the way for the success of our organization,” says Dave Cook, Carolina Caring President and CEO. “I often reflect on his transformational leadership style that created a culture of highly engaged, mission-driven healthcare workers who continue to drive our growth as we evolve as a regional leader in serious illness care. We would not be where we are today without him, and his legacy will continue to inspire our work and our mission for many years to come.”
Dave spent his entire professional career in healthcare leadership positions. Well versed in strategic planning, business development, physician practice management, and provider reimbursement, he had a reputation for seeking out innovation and building strength and resiliency into the programs he established.
He had devoted the largest part of his career to raising the profile of hospice and palliative care. He had distinguished himself with forward-thinking program achievements and by integrating hospice’s influence into other segments of healthcare. During his 20-year tenure at Palliative CareCenter and Hospice of Catawba Valley (PCHCV), a community-based, not-for-profit provider, Dave grew the small organization from 16 employees and an average daily census of 40 patients to 240 employees and an ADC of 300 patients. He also expanded hospice and palliative care services from Catawba county to a current footprint in 10 counties.
In 2009, Dave led the charge to create a strategic alliance with Lutheran Services of the Carolinas and Catawba Valley Medical Center to launch a PACE program (Program of all-Inclusive Care for the Elderly). PCHCV ultimately assumed the lead role in PACE@Home’s development and administration, and the organization now exceeds $10 million in annual revenue.
Among his other business initiatives, Dave guided the establishment of Life Transitions, a thriving palliative medicine practice, and piloted the implementation of multiple disease-specific programs that allow patients and families to benefit from specialized support and services.
Prior to his arrival at PCHCV, Dave served as Executive Vice President of Business Development at Coastal Healthcare Group in Durham, NC, helping manage physician practices in 33 states. At Coastal, he also developed new business lines in various medical specialties, evaluated and reorganized businesses to improve growth and financial performance, and created solutions to complete successfully in managed environments.
A whirlwind of opportunities at Coastal led the business to expand from $8 million to more than $800 million in annual revenues within 13 years. This dramatic growth, along with the company’s decision to go public, ingrained in Dave an enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. When he transitioned to the hospice and palliative care arena, he drew on this energy to animate his vision of hospices working together to achieve improved practices and outcomes, a dream that was realized in what is now the Teleios Collaborative Network, a think tank of innovators in the field of hospice and palliative medicine.
Also, in forming Dave’s affinity for healthcare were his earlier career roles. At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, during a 10-year tenure, Dave served as Director of Provider Remimbursement. At St. Luke’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH, he was an assistant administrator, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, he was involved in finance and budgeting. Dave’s experience at Walter Reed, and his three years of service in the Army Medical Corps, where he achieved the rank of captain, sparked his original interest with healthcare.
Dave was chair of the Board of Directors for PACE@Home and a member of the Rotary Club of Newton-Conover. As a long standing supporter of Rotary, he was recognized by the Rotary Foundation as a Paul Harris Fellow.
He had also been a prominent figure in healthcare-related state and national committees. Dave served on the Board of Directors for the Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care (2001-2006, 2008-2013), and as its Treasurer (2003-2005). In 2001, he was honored with the Peter G. Keese Award for outstanding leadership achievements from the Carolinas Center. In 2018, he was given a key to the city of Newton.
When he was not working, Dave enjoyed travel, golf, and spending time with family, friends, and his grandson, Maverick. He was an avid UNC Tarheel fan, and a member of many years of the RAMS Club. He enjoyed all Tarheel sports, especially baseball, basketball, and football.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, Linda S. Clarke; twin grandchildren, Marin and Hardin Steelmon; and nephew; Dallas Hill.
Survivors include his wife, Jan Sigmon Clarke of the home; son, Joshua Steelmon and wife, Melissa of Claremont; sister, Mollie Hill and spouse, Cynthia Geissinger of CO; grandchild, Maverick Steelmon; nieces, Jenna H. Haefele of CO, Alicia H. Sessoms and husband, Jacob of Asheville, NC; numerous great-nieces and nephews; and some very close special cousins.
A graveside service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 21, 2021 at Conover City Cemetery with Rev. Dr. David Roquemore of First Presbyterian Church of Newton officiating. The family will receive friends immediately following the service at the graveside.
Condolences may be sent to the Clarke family at www.drumfh-conover.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to: Carolina Caring, formerly Catawba Regional Hospice, 3975 Robinson Rd., Newton, NC 28658.
The Clarke family has entrusted funeral arrangements to Drum Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Conover, NC.
Sunday, February 21, 2021