Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark: A Life of Service

By Mimi Clark Gronlund | Go to book overview
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Preface

IT HAS BEEN MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS since my brother, Ramsey, suggested that I write a biography of our father, Tom C. Clark. Ramsey made the suggestion in June 1977, just a few days after our father’s death. We were attending his burial and memorial service in Dallas, and grieving for the man who had been such an important part of our lives. I suspect that Ramsey was merely making a passing remark and did not anticipate the impact that it had on me. But the seed of an idea was planted, and though the road to completion has been long, and at times bumpy, I have persisted, motivated by the desire to leave a portrait of this remarkable man for future generations of my family as well as for the public at large.

I did not immediately plunge into the task of writing a biography. In 1977, the year of my father’s death, my life was full and not conducive to taking on another major commitment. My husband and I had moved back to the Washington, D.C., area from Buffalo, New York, the previous year. I had received a master’s in library science that summer and was working as a reference librarian at Northern Virginia Community College. Two of our five daughters were in college, and the remaining three were still living at home. Writing a biography seemed a formidable task, but I realized that it was important to begin immediately by contacting my father’s contemporaries, who were elderly. Many had already passed on. In 1978, I interviewed my father’s two surviving sisters, a sister-in-law, and his former secretaries. I began a series of conversations with my brother and my mother, who wrote a journal intended to help me with my research. I was privileged in 1981 to interview the three living justices who served on the Supreme Court with my father: William J. Brennan, Potter Stewart, and Byron White. In 1980, I enrolled in George Mason University in a master’s degree program in English, with a specialization in writing. My purpose was to begin work on the biography by writing

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