North American Scholar

CLACK, Jerry

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1926-07-22
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Christopher Thrower, a foreign representative of the Blaw Knox Co., and Mildred Taylor Van Dyke C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2019-04-15
  • Death City: Pittsburgh
  • Death State/Country: PA
  • Married: Julian Gil
  • Education:

    A.B. Princeton, 1946; M.A. U. Pittsburgh, 1958; Ph.D., 1962; M.A. Duquesne (Spanish), 1977. 

  • Professional Experience:

    Staff, Swedish legation, Washington D.C., 1946; Documents Officer, United States Commission for UNESCO, 1946-52; Documents Officer for US Delegation and UNESCO gen. conferences Florence (1950); Paris (1951), and Program Officer; exec. Dir., Allegheny County chapter, March of Dimes, 1953-68; pres., Western Pennsylvania Public Health Conference, 1967; vice president, Western Pennsylvania Chapter Citizens for Global Solutions, 1965-88; asst. prof. classics, Duquesne U., 1968-71; asso. prof. 1971-5; prof. 1975-2011; chair, dept. class., 1973-5; 1980-3; pres. CAAS, 1978-9; Exec. Dir, 1993-2001; editor, CW, 1977-93; trustee, Vergilian Society of America, 1985-7; dir., Pittsburgh Opera Theater, treas., 2003-2011; Norman Cousins Award, Citizens for Global Solutions, 2010; OPERA award, National Opera Trustee Recognition Award, 2017.  

  • Dissertation:

    “The Chrysis of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini” (Pittsburgh, 1962).

  • Publications:

    “The Medea Similes of Apollonius Rhodius,” CJ 68 (1973) 310-15; “The Structure of Juvenal 4. A Reprise,” CB 50 (1973-4) 77-8; “To Those Who Fell on Agrippina's Pen,” CW 69 (1975) 45-53; “Otium tibi molestum est. Catullus 50 and 51,” CB 52 (1976) 50-3; “Hannibal's Gait,” CW 70 (1976) 181; “Non ego nunc (Propertius 1.6), A Study in Irony,” CW 71 (1977) 187-90; An Anthology of Alexandrian Poetry (Pittsburgh, PA: Classical World, 1982); Meleager, The Poems (ed.) (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1992);“Ethel Lux (1909-1997)” CW 91,6 (1997-8) 569; Asclepiades of Samos and Leonidas of Tarentum: The Poems (ed.) (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1999); Dioscorides and Antipater of Sidon: The Poems (ed.) (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2001).

  • Notes:

    As Jerry Clack’s father’s job involved overseas representation of the largest foundry west of Pittsburgh, builder of radio towers, and an innovator in road paving, Clack’s early years were spent in London and Düsseldorf. His father died in Germany when Clack was only 5, in 1931. His mother brought him back to Pittsburgh for his schooling, he entered Princeton in 1943 and graduated three years later. 

    After graduation Clack joined the Swedish legation in Washington, then worked for UNESCO for five years, giving him a commitment to international relations that he maintained throughout his long life.

    In 1952 he returned to Pittsburgh and public relations, a field that would, perhaps surprisingly, serve himself and his classical colleagues well. Valuable skills accrued from his service as an account executive for The American Automobile Association, the Coca-Cola Co., the American Heart Association, and, most notably, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now the March of Dimes). In this latter role he managed the mass vaccinations against polio made possible by the discoveries of Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin. With polio virtually eradicated, Clack helped move the March of Dimes in the direction of the study and prevention of birth defects.  

    While at the March of Dimes, Clack pursued graduate studies in Classics at the University of Pittsburgh. Six years after receiving his doctorate, he was offered a job at Duquesne University. In his service to CAAS, he put his fundraising and public relations experience to excellent use. CAAS in response has an annual lectureship in his name.

    His scholarly interests centered on the Hellenistic poets. Several of whom he edited for Bolchazy-Carducci. 

    He was a great fan of opera, particularly Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. He annually attended Wagner festival in Bayreuth and had an enormous collection of recorded operas. Following his retirement at the age of 85, he became chairman of the board and treasurer of the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and funded a festival devoted to the operas of his beloved Strauss. In 2018 he funded a revival of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, with one opera performed each year and the entire cycle performed in 2021.

  • Sources:

    Wikipedia, s.v., Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (20 April 2019). https://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2019/04/20/Obituary-Jerry-Clack-Duquesne-Classics-professor-Pittsburgh-Festival-Opera/stories/201904180136 accessed May 1, 2019; WhAm63 (2009) 884.

  • Author: Ward Briggs