John Bernard Clark, Jr
May 30, 1940 – August 5, 2023
Mr. John Bernard Clark, Jr., a distinguished resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, passed away on August 5, 2023 at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy of accomplishments, curiosity, and warmth. Born on May 30, 1940, in Wichita Falls, Texas, John was the beloved son of John Bernard Clark and Hazel Lois Hanvey Clark. His early years were spent in Denton, Texas.
His curiosity for how things worked was evident in his youth, as he delighted in disassembling small appliances and mastering the intricacies of electrical and mechanical systems. He built his own Ham radio equipment, many electronic instruments, a color television and, later, computers. He was always the go-to person to repair anything that needed fixing.
After graduating from Denton High School, John attended North Texas State University, and then after his family moved to Las Vegas, NM, New Mexico Highlands University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.
John’s sense of duty and interest in astrophysics led him to Air Force Officer Training School at Lackland AFB in 1963. After commissioning he became a Satellite Orbital Analyst at NORAD in Colorado Springs. Recognized for his excellence, he earned several prestigious service awards from both the Department of the Air Force and NASA. John’s evident scientific acumen and leadership abilities marked the beginning of a brilliant career.
Transitioning to civil service in 1971, John continued to contribute significantly to the Air Force Space Command. His roles as Acting Director, Analysis and Engineering Directorate of the Space Warfare Center, Chief Scientist at HQ Air Force Space Command, and Chief of Intelligence Systems Division, Intelligence Plans Directorate, Air Force Space Command, showcased his exceptional dedication to advancing aerospace technology and knowledge. After retiring from civil service in 1995, he remained active in the aerospace community, serving as a consultant for several companies. He was an active member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
In recent years, he continued to work closely with his colleagues developing new ground-based training satellites. They not only designed and built the satellites, they also traveled to teach courses using them. His work travels took him to NASA and US military installations in the US, as well as the European Space Agency in the Netherlands. In the last few years, he also taught classes in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. His students ranged from college students to engineers with decades of experience and each of them learned something new from John and his incredible knowledge of electronics, orbital mechanics and astrodynamics. He also enjoyed meeting the new students and learning from them as well.
He pursued myriad hobbies including auto restoration, woodworking, flying and rebuilding aircraft, archaeology, photography, golf, Ham radio operation, cooking, skiing, mountain climbing, and fine wines and beers. He built his own home, complete with a basement that had rooms devoted to his hobbies.
John actively explored the world’s history and cultures, traveling widely in the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Europe. John loved watching and feeding hummingbirds, with a cherished memory of a hummingbird perching on his finger during a visit to a sanctuary in Costa Rica. His sense of humor, generosity, and easy-going nature endeared him to countless friends. He was also fondly regarded by the canine companions of his human friends.
In recent years, John realized cherished dreams by piloting WWII aircraft, including a Spitfire in England and a P51-D Mustang in Florida.
John is survived by his sister, Carol Anne Martinez (partner Russell Thompson) of Albuquerque, NM, and his brother, Charles Dickson Clark (Bernice) of Watkinsville, GA. He leaves behind several nieces and nephews, each carrying forward his legacy of curiosity and dedication.
Memorial contributions can be made to the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association in honor of John’s memory.
Mr. John Bernard Clark, Jr. will be fondly remembered as a trailblazer in aerospace, an enthusiastic explorer, a dedicated friend, and a source of inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him.