Jane Eleanor Clark
COLUMBIA — Jane Eleanor Clark, a former associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, held the attention and respect of many young journalists during her 25 years at the university.
Ms. Clark was not only a prominent figure at the journalism school, but she also enjoyed getting out into the Columbia community. She liked to eat out and could be seen regularly at restaurants downtown.
“She liked to be thought of as someone who didn’t just work all the time but knew how to have a good time in life,” said George Kennedy, who was associate dean when Ms. Clark was the head of the journalism school’s curriculum committee.
“Her spirit was reflected in the fact that she liked to drive around town in a silver convertible,” Kennedy said. “She was a St. Louis girl and never let anyone forget that.”
Ms. Clark died on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at Lenoir Woods Senior Living Community. She was 81.
“She was concerned about people being the very best they could be,” said Joye Patterson, a longtime friend of Ms. Clark’s. “She was a very independent person. I think the focus of her life really was the journalism school and knowing the students.”
“She was a fantastic teacher,” said Randy Smith, a former student of Ms. Clark’s. “She’s someone I’ve always thought of with high regard and a very deep respect."
Ms. Clark was born July 15, 1929, in Pittsburgh, Pa., to Edwin M. and Eleanor McKay Clark. The family later moved to St. Louis.
In 1951, Ms. Clark received a bachelor's degree in Spanish from Sweet Briar College in Virginia. After school, she worked as a copy writer and script writer at D’Arcy Advertising Agency in St. Louis.
She became a feature writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1959 and was named women’s editor later that year. During her time at the Globe-Democrat, Ms. Clark won numerous awards for her feature writing.
In 1967, Ms. Clark became an instructor at the Missouri School of Journalism. As a teacher, she always pushed her students to a higher level, and the impact she had on her students was lasting.
“You never knew exactly what to expect in her class, but you had to be prepared,” Smith said. “It was quite active.”
Smith said a year after taking her class, he was reporting on a fire story he had to call in and dictate by phone. He said it was Ms. Clark’s teaching that prepared him to do it.
“I don’t think I would have been ready if it hadn’t been for Jane,” he said. “Everyone meets someone in their journalism career who launches them in the right direction, and for me that person was her.”
Byron Scott, professor emeritus of journalism at MU, recalled a delegation of students came to him after their first class with Ms. Clark.
“They heard that Jane was ‘too strict,'” Scott said. “I refused to let them transfer. As the semester wore on, most of those students came back to my office to thank me. I’d bet some of those alums are still thanking Jane.”
“Jane taught literally thousands of J-students in what I still regard as the most important course of the school,” Kennedy said, referring to News 105, which was a basic news writing course.
She also taught students feature writing and coordinated introductory courses in news reporting.
In 1969, Ms. Clark received a master's degree in journalism. During her time at MU, she placed second in a writing contest sponsored by the National Federation of Press Women.
Patterson met Ms. Clark as a colleague at the university in the 1960s. During that time, Ms. Clark served as the leader and social chairwoman of a group called “J-women.” The group was made up of women faculty members and wives of faculty members. It was through this group Patterson got to know Ms. Clark.
“We were friends for the rest of her life,” Patterson said.
Ms. Clark retired as associate professor in 1992.
Ms. Clark took annual cruises to learn about new countries and brought her love of travel back to the journalism school. She helped establish Edgar Snow Fellowships, a program that helped Chinese journalists travel to Columbia and be a part of the master's journalism program.
“She was instrumental (in that program),” Patterson said.
Ms. Clark loved her cats. In 1980, a small fire started at her house. Though the fire was not serious, the house did suffer some damage. After the fire, she told reporters she was most concerned about her two cats in the house, Mike and Misty, who survived.
Ms. Clark is survived by her brother, Richard E. Clark of Sewickley, Pa., and his two children, Todd E. Clark of Falls Church, Va., and Karen Lynn Kuschner of Pacifica, Calif.
Visitation will be 6 to 7 p.m. March 24 at Parker Funeral Service, 22 N. Tenth St.
Interment will be in the Memorial Garden at Calvary Episcopal Church.
Memorial contributions can be sent to the Central Missouri Humane Society, 616 Big Bear Blvd., Columbia, MO 65202.
Condolences can be posted at parkerfuneralservice.com.