HAROLD G. CLARKE
Former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court
Justice Harold G. Clarke, 85, of Forsyth, Georgia, passed away February 26, 2013. Justice Clarke was born September 28, 1927 in Forsyth to Jack H. and Ruby Lumpkin Clarke. A lifelong resident of Forsyth, Justice Clarke attended Mary Persons High School and was an active member and elder of Forsyth Presbyterian Church where his father served as minister for more than 30 years.
Justice Clarke earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Gridiron Secret Society. He joined the U.S. Army during World War II and was assigned to the staff of the Pacific Stars and Stripes in Japan where he was the newspaper’s managing editor. He was awarded the Army Commendation Ribbon and the Far East Command Certificate of Merit for his service. He obtained a law degree from the University of Georgia and was admitted to the bar in 1950.
Justice Clarke married Nora Gordon of Athens, Georgia, in 1952. Early in his career, he founded Clarke, Haygood and Lynch and practiced law with his partners, Charlie Haygood and Larry Lynch, as well as owning and operating the Monroe Advertiser, the local newspaper formally owned by his father. In 1961, Justice Clarke was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and served a decade in the legislature. He was a leader of the movement to transform the Georgia Bar Association into the organized State Bar of Georgia in 1964 and served as President of the State Bar in 1976-77.
In December of 1979, Justice Clarke was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia by Governor George Busbee and served as Chief Justice from 1990-1992 and from 1992-1994. While serving as Chief Justice in 1992, he temporarily stepped aside to allow his good friend and colleague Charles Weltner, who was struggling with cancer, the honor of serving his last few months as chief justice. Following the swearing-in ceremony, Chief Justice Weltner returned to his office to find stationery reflecting his new title, courtesy of Justice Clarke. The consummate Southern gentleman, Justice Clarke will long be remembered for putting others first.
Among his many accomplishments, Justice Clarke was chairman of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and president of the Flint Circuit Bar Association. He served as a trustee of the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education and chairman of the Judicial Council of Georgia. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society and Board of Visitors of the University of Georgia Law School. He was a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and American College of Trial Lawyers. He was an elder in the Forsyth Presbyterian Church and served as commissioner from the Atlanta Presbytery to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Chief Justice Clarke was instrumental in creating the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, the first body of its kind in the nation, the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution and the Equality Commission. In 1994, he was honored with the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics, an award given each year by the American Inns of Court to recognize a person who has rendered exemplary service to the legal profession in the areas of legal excellence, professionalism, civility and ethics. After his retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice Clarke joined the law firm of Troutman Sanders as Of Counsel and chaired the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution group.
This year, Justice Clarke was recognized by The Southern Center for Human Rights for the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Friends and family take comfort in knowing that Justice Clarke’s words, reflections and humor can still be shared in his 1995 book Remembering Forward. He will forever be remembered as a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. As noted Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Celestine Sibley once said about Justice Clarke, “he had a friendly relaxed way about him, a durable sense of humor, and of incontestable importance, he was one of us.”
Surviving are his wife, Nora Gordon Clarke, a son and three daughters and their families: Lee Ann Clarke of High Falls, Georgia, and her son Clarke Nash of Atlanta; Harold G. Clarke, Jr., his wife Barbara of Forsyth and their daughter Brooke White of Atlanta; Julie Clarke Poole of Marietta, Georgia, and her sons, Alan and Robert, both of Athens, Georgia; and Beth Clarke Maner, her husband Randy and their children, Emmeline and Blake, of Atlanta.
Funeral services will be held at 2:30PM on Friday, March 1, 2013 at Forsyth Presbyterian Church with the Reverend Malcolm Davis and the Reverend Andrew Walton officiating. Burial will be private in Monroe Hill Memorial Gardens. Family will greet friends between 5:00-7:00PM on Thursday, February 28, 2013 in the Monroe County Old Bank Building. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Forsyth Presbyterian Church, 63 North Jackson Street, Forsyth, Georgia 31029.
Register online at www.hartmort.com.
Hart’s Mortuary and Crematory at the Cupola has charge of arrangements.