In Memoriam George M. Clark

In Memoriam George M. Clark

OCTOBER 2, 1951

Services held by the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan, on Tuesday, October 2, 1951, at 10:00 a.m.

Chief Justice NEIL E. REID:
The first order of business at the opening hour of the session of this Court at this time is given in honor of the memory of our highly esteemed late member GEORGE M. CLARK, former Justice and former Chief Justice of this Court. And I have been given to understand that there are resolutions on behalf of the Huron County Bar Association, of which county he was a resident and of which association he was a member, and may we be privileged to hear them read and presented at this time.

May it please the Court:
It is my privilege to present the resolution which. has been sent by Mr. Alfred H. Sauer, the president of the Huron County Bar Association, and I shall read it because it bears its own best evidence of the tribute of respect:


“The Huron County Bar Association is pleased and proud to offer the following resolution in memory of the late George M. Clark.

“BE IT RESOLVED THEREFORE, by the Huron County Bar Association in meeting assembled:
“That we are deeply grieved by the passing of GEORGE M. CLARK, of Caseville, Michigan, who was called from this life on March 28, 1951.

“Born November 21, 1875, into the humble home of a family that became early Michigan pioneers, he moved to Bad Axe in 1881, and received his high school education in that village. Following graduation he went forth into the county as a rural school teacher. In 1898 he commenced his first term as county clerk of the county of Huron, in which capacity he served until December 31, 1903. During this period he pursued a course of study in law under the direction of the late William T. Bope, and commenced the practice of law in Bad Axe on January 1, 1905.

“He enjoyed a very successful practice in this community, which continued to his appointment by the late Governor Albert E. Sleeper to the Supreme Court of Michigan on December 30, 1919. The respect and esteem for him by the people of this community following his practice here is tribute greater than any resolution that we might adopt.

“We feel his life is particularly significant in that without the benefit of formal college or law school education, he qualified himself to become a most capable lawyer, and for his years of service on the Supreme Court of Michigan. He was noted for his brevity and his directness of speech and action, and his ability to analyze a problem presented and narrow the same to its salient issue.

“Following his terms of service on the Supreme Court of Michigan, he returned to private practice in 1933, in Muskegon and Detroit, which continued until 1945. In the meantime, he satisfied a life-long ambition to live on a farm by purchasing a farm at Caseville, where he continued to reside, following his retirement and until his sudden passing. His return to this county was gratifying to all who knew him, and the resourcefulness of his experience and mind was always available to the members of this Association.

“His passing creates a void in our ranks that can never be filled, but will never be forgotten.

“AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that this resolution be spread upon the records of our Association for all time, and that a suitably prepared copy hereof be conveyed to the family of the late, the Honorable, Mr. Justice GEORGE M. CLARK.

“ALFRED H. SAUER, President
“Bad Axe Michigan.”

May it Please the Court:
Adoption of this resolution I now move and in doing so it would be unseemly if a member of the bar did not say just this—that everything in the resolution is true.

Mr. Justice CLARK was held in great esteem by the people, the rank and file, of the whole Thumb area, as well as the State, who knew him. Having been present at his funeral and observing the crowd and nature of those who paid their respect, and the manner of it, I can freely testify that it was not from curiosity that the hundreds and thousands came, but for the most part because they loved the neighbor, citizen and friend who had come up the hard way, who had earned a great place in Michigan’s life who had written some fine opinions, who loved nothing better than to find some way to say it shorter and more clearly, and who had in the short time he was upon the bench become endeared to the heart of the bench and bar of Michigan. So, on behalf of this Bar Association, his widow, his family, and all who knew him, we present this resolution and ask the Court to spread it upon the minutes.

Chief Justice NEIL E. REID:
Is there any other person present who would desire to say anything upon this important occasion in honor of the memory of Justice CLARK, any person present? (No response.) Justice NORTH will speak on behalf of this Court on this occasion.

Associate Justice WALTER H. NORTH:
May it please the Court:
Former Justice GEORGE M. CLARK became a member of this Court in 1920. He succeeded former Justice FRANZ C. KUHN, and Justice CLARK continued to serve until 1933 when he resigned in August of that year. It was my good fortune to become a member of this Court at a time when Justice CLARK was serving here and I can say this, that he very greatly helped me in getting into the stride of the work of this Court— and it has been my own experience and observation that a newly-elected or appointed member of this Court coming into its service, no matter what his previous experience may have been as a judge in some other court or as an active practitioner, he can well accept because he needs help and guidance from those who have had previous experience here, and it was such that former Justice CLARK gave in abundance to me. To know him was to respect and admire him. Mentally he ranked with the best, and physically he was well-nigh perfect. But withal he was kindly and modest. In our Court conferences on decisions he was helpful and often persuasive, but he made no attempt at being dictatorial or domineering. The assignments of cases to him to write were disposed of almost invariably promptly by him, and the opinions prepared by him are found in more than 50 volumes of the Michigan Reports, beginning with volume 209. And those opinions that former Justice CLARK wrote and that have been embodied in our Michigan Reports disclose, as has been previously mentioned in resolutions presented, that he wrote with great brevity. As to brevity he was a past master, but not at the sacrifice of clarity or thoroughness.

Truly he was an able, valuable and helpful member of this Court, and in his resignation the bench and bar of Michigan as well as Michigan’s citizens generally, sustained a real loss. It is highly fitting that I should quote as nearly as I may the words of the late Justice CLARK, who, in speaking on an occasion of the memorial service of another member of this Court, said: “Fond recollections of our departed Brother, like a beautiful painting, will hang long on memory’s walls.”
Mr. Chief Justice I move that the resolutions be made a part of the permanent records of this Court and suitable copies thereof be mailed to the family of former Justice CLARK.

Chief Justice NEIL E. REID:
It is so ordered. The resolutions shall be spread upon the permanent records of this Court.