Reagan friend and advisor Bill Clark dies

Quiet power in D.C., friend to Catholic and pro-life causes

The following obituary was released by the Clark family today, August 10.



The obituary does not mention that Clark was Ronald Reagan’s closest friend, was appointed by Governor Reagan as California supreme court justice, then became President Reagan’s national security advisor and his secretary of interior. Clark was largely responsible for pushing the Strategic Defense Initiative, which many credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union. Reagan’s support for the unborn as president came from Clark’s influence, a poignant fact given Reagan’s signing of the 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act in California

Clark quietly gave crucial help to Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula and the International Theological Institute in Austria. Clark signed the Yes ballot arguments for parental notification initiatives in 2005, 2006, and 2008.

William Patrick “Bill” Clark, Jr., 81, passed away on Saturday, August 10, 2013 of advanced Parkinson’s Disease, at the home ranch in Shandon, assured of his family’s love, affection and gratitude.

Bill was born in Oxnard, California to an Irish Catholic family of cattlemen, teamsters, and lawmen. From birth, he learned to love and respect family, his Catholic faith, horses, and the land. He passed this love and respect on to his children, grandchildren and great-grandson.

Bill possessed a quiet but passionate love of both country and the philosophical underpinnings of our nation. He was dedicated to the rights of the individual, from the unborn to the incarcerated, to the sick and the dying, to the under-represented. This love and dedication guided his many years in government, compelling him to serve his country.

As National Security Advisor

As National Security Advisor

Bill’s greatest solace in life was his faith in God, his wife Joan, his children, grandchildren, great-grandson, and the family ranch in Shandon. Whether he was working in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C., he always returned home to the ranch where he was happiest, content, and relaxed. Nothing brought more satisfaction to him than working on the ranch, developing his springs, growing his olive trees, driving his horses, flying his L-19 “Bird Dog”.

Bill felt great love for the community that came to Chapel Hill, the Chapel on the family ranch that he and Joan designed and built. At the Chapel, Bill and Joan made countless friends who Bill greatly missed in his final months when he was unable to attend Mass on Sundays.

Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Joan. He is survived by his five children: Monica (Lee), Pete (Elena), Nina (Mark), Colin (Linda), and Paul (Gigi). Dad is also survived by eight grandchildren, one great-grandson, and his dog, Pancho. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at Chapel Hill, McMillan Canyon Road in Shandon. The interment at Shandon Cemetery will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the William P. and Joan Clark Legacy Scholarship Endowment at Saint Rose Catholic Grammar School in Paso Robles or Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo.


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  1. It’s a good, refreshing account of human nature and Catholicism. Breath of fresh air to read.

  2. I never knew much about Mr. Clark until now, but he sounded like a fine Catholic gentleman who did much for his fellow man/woman and lived with deep integrity and love for his Catholic faith. May he rest in peace. God bless all, Markrite

  3. Catherine says:

    Courageous moral men with conviction and character = endan′gered spe′cies noun. “a species at risk of extinction because of human activity, changes in *cultural* climate, changes in predator-prey ratios, etc., esp. when officially designated as such by a governmental or international agency.”

    May the faithfully departed soul of William Patrick “Bill” Clark Jr., through the mercy of God, rest in peace and may the Perpetual Light shine upon him. May all of the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace and may the Perpetual Light Shine upon them. Amen.

  4. Maryanne Leonard says:

    Ventura County, California, where the worth of this outstanding man was well known and valued, is in mourning on this quiet Sunday morning.

  5. This is breaking news?

    • Maryanne Leonard says:

      Yes, and of great import to those of us who knew Bill Clark personally, knew of his work, and/or were the direct beneficiaries of the many ways in which this good and faithful man touched the world we live in, leaving it a much better place than he found it, for his having been here.

  6. After reading the only book ever written about Judge Clark by his cousin and Professor Kengor (who became Catholic after interviewing Clark) and meeting him at the ‘Chapel on the Hill’, and at the Reagan Library, Judge Clark became one of my heroes. Although I only encountered him briefly and only after he had contracted Parkinsons I grieve him as if he were a member of my family.
    His good friend Fr. Peter of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pismo Beach preceded him in death by a little over a week. Both exceedingly good Catholic men who shortly will find their place next to our Lord and Savior.

  7. A Faithful Catholic – A Loving Spouse and Father – A Great American -
    Enough said.

  8. juergensen says:

    I recommend the book “The Judge”, by Paul Kengor & Patricia Clark Doenrer, a biography of Bill Clark. A great read with terrific insight into the Reagan Administration.

  9. urbie green says:

    One of the Big men of yesteryear! A faithful man who dedicated his life to family, country and those who lacked a voice. The generation of today, has no idea, no true appreciation, for the amazing accomplishment of disrupting soviet world wide influence, of causing the near collapse of a tyrant nation, of forgetting the need for bomb shelters in our back yards. Today’s generations accross the globe know of a unified Germany, a Democratic Nation…due to the Administration of Mr Reagan and his many fine advisers…like Mr Clark. A true American…of the generation that knew how to be an American…proudly and boastfully…. a Catholic who lived his faith.
    god Bless you and Joan….

  10. May Judge William Patrick Clark through the mercy of God rest in peace. I have the biography about him but have not had the chance to read it. Perhaps it is time to pull it out and do so. I have made the intention of including him in one of my Masses attended.

  11. tom in san jose says:

    And one more thing: In spite of his great accomplishments, Judge Clark was an extremely humble person who shunned the spotlight. A character trait that’s virtually non-existent in the Washington power-players of today.

  12. Chuck Knight says:

    I met Judge Clark 30 years ago through his son Colin. I was very impressed by him as a person long before I knew his legacy with President Reagan. He is as much a one of a kind as the president. I am sorry about his passing. He will be missed.

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