College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Dr. James Edwin Clark remembered for launching careers and supporting women


Clemson University’s civil engineers are remembering Professor J. Edwin Clark as a well-respected educator, transportation researcher and public servant who helped launch his students’ careers and supported them after they graduated.

Clark was 88 when he died on July 20, according to his obituary.

Gaye Sprague studied for her master’s degree under Clark’s guidance before going on to an influential career as a traffic engineering consultant and Greenville City Council member. 

She remembers Clark serving as a generous technical resource for his students, even after they graduated.

He encouraged participation in professional organizations, served on several municipal and university traffic study groups and was a mentor to female engineers, encouraging them to select transportation as their area of practice, Sprague said.

“Many fulfilling careers were launched through his encouragement and mentorship,” Sprague said.

Clark, an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean conflict, received his Ph.D. in civil engineering in 1967 from North Carolina State University, according to his obituary. 

He worked for three years designing bridges and roads in industry before becoming a civil engineering instructor at the University of South Carolina, and then North Carolina State University, according to his obituary.

He later became an assistant professor of civil engineering at Mississippi State University and joined Clemson in 1970 as an associate professor, according to his obituary.

Clark taught graduate students at Clemson for 26 years, attaining the rank of full professor and retiring as a professor emeritus of civil engineering. 

“Teaching was his calling and passion, and Professor Clark especially championed aspiring female engineers,” his obituary stated.

Wayne Sarasua, now a professor of civil engineering, said that he and David Clarke were hired to take Clark’s place a few years after he retired. 

“We had such big shoes to fill,” Sarasua said. “Dr. Clark was so well respected as an educator and transportation researcher. “  

Colleagues remembered Clark taking students to meetings of professional organizations, including the Institute of Transportation Engineers.  The South Carolina section named a scholarship after him and a fellow Clemson professor, the late Don Stafford.

James Burati, one of Clark’s former colleagues, remembered Clark and Stafford piling into a van with students each year to attend the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.

“I only went on one of those trips, but it was an enjoyable experience and a good time was had by all,” Burati said. “Ed seemed to really enjoy interacting with the students.”

In addition to his work with students, Clark served as chair for the city of Clemson’s Board of Architectural Review and “contributed his expertise to anything related to transportation in that city,” according to his obituary.

Jesus de la Garza, chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, said that Clark’s legacy continues to ripple through the Clemson Family.

“Dr. Clark had an unwavering commitment to our students and loaned his shoulders to many colleagues to stand on,” de la Garza said. “His student-centric legacy will continue through the Dr. James Edwin Clark Student Assistance Endowment which was established by Dr. and Mrs. Clark to support students focusing in transportation engineering.  We are forever grateful for their generosity. They are, without a doubt, Clemson Multipliers.”

Clark is survived by his wife, Becky Jo Davis Clark; his daughters, Teresa Clark Gray (David) and Melissa Clark Janse (Roy); his son, Davis Edward Clark (Tina); seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the James Edwin Clark Fellowship of Clemson University, according to his obituary. 

Memorials can be made here. Or checks can be sent to Clemson University, PO Box 1889 Clemson, SC 29633. Please designate “Dr. James Edwin Clark Student Assistance Endowment for Transportation Engineering” on the check.

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.