William Clark

October 29, 1937June 18, 2018

Bill Clark was a consummate gentleman. Through all of life's vicissitudes, he made good manners, a sense of humor and plain old human decency look easy. His life was, first, about his family – his wife Beverly, his children and their families; second, his friends, scattered about the country and too numerous to count; third, about music, languages and literature; and in last place, the Red Sox. There were seasons when the Sox moved up a bit in that list, helped out by Bill and his grandchildren cheering them on.

In Bill's working life, he was a French professor, mainly at Salem State University. He had a million entertaining stories about Salem, but those stories, even at their funniest, always showed a respect for his students, even in those students' neophyte struggles with French. The French language might have been unforgiving, but Bill himself was the most forgiving person you could ever have the good fortune to know.

Learning was a habit for Bill that extended beyond his school years. Already a first-rate flute player – he played second flute to his wife Beverly in Symphony by the Sea, the orchestra they cofounded – Bill became a skilled bassoon, oboe and recorder player as an adult, as well as the official author of program notes for Symphony by the Sea concerts. And besides French, which native French speakers said that he spoke perfectly, he could serviceably handle himself in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Bill's learning extended as well beyond the traditional academic – he was an expert in wine, a member of the American Society of Wine Educators, and taught wine courses all over the North Shore.

Bill died Sunday, June 18, 2018 at Care Dimensions Hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts.

William Charles Clark was born on October 29, 1937 in Lewiston, Maine, the older child of Paul and Josephine (Nowicki) Clark. He grew up in Maine, and in Montebello, California. Bill attended college at the University of California at Berkeley, which is also where he received his Ph.D. in Romance Languages.

Bill was predeceased by his parents, and by his younger sister, Susan.

He leaves his wife Beverly (Seger) Clark, his children Megan Turner, her husband Mark and their children Zoë and Sabine of Eugene, Oregon; Paul Clark and his children Aiden and Emma of Salem; Erika Clark Griffin, her husband Michael and their children Nicholas, Casey and Jacob of Salem; and Jonathan Clark of Marblehead.

A private funeral has already been held.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Symphony by the Sea ( or to a charity of your choice.


  • Graveside Funeral Service

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018


William Clark

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Patricia Shanahan

January 8, 2019

I am very sorry to learn of Dr. Clark's death. I had him for French at Salem State in the early 70's.

I went on to become a French and Spanish teacher and language department head at a local high school, but often thought of his teaching, and even used some of the texts he used in my own French literature classes. You knew that he loved his subject. He was knowledgeable, patient and interesting. A great teacher I was privileged to have. Condolences to all.