John Bales Clark
John Bales Clark passed away peacefully at his ranch in Old Snowmass, Colorado, with his family at his side. John practiced law for many years, holding State Bar licenses in New York, California and Colorado. He owned several Aspen area businesses, served terms as Chairman of the Snowmass Capitol Creek Caucus and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. John was loved by many and admired for his intelligence, wit, humor and honesty. For those who loved him, he was larger than life and will be dearly missed.
John was born in Great Bend, Kansas, August 2, 1936 to Ruth and Dwight Clark. John moved with his parents and older brother, Dwight, to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1945. John’s father opened a bookstore and his mother became involved in local politics, eventually serving as one of the first female representatives in the Colorado State Legislature from 1955-1966.
John attended Fort Collins High School and excelled in both academics and athletics. He was elected Student Body President and played for Fort Collins High School when they won the State Football Championship in 1954.
In 1954, John followed his older brother Dwight to Stanford University, where he also played football and rugby. He became a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and earned a degree in Engineering in 1958. John received an academic scholarship to Stanford Law School. He served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review and earned his law degree in 1961.
In 1961, John joined the firm of Sullivan and Cromwell in New York City and began what would become a successful and expansive international career as an attorney, mediator and arbitrator, specializing in disputes arising from construction projects. John was named one of Southern California’s Super Lawyers and included in the listing of “Best Lawyers in America” in the specialty of construction law. He was described as an “icon of construction litigation” and “a gentleman who wins cases.”
He was most proud of his pro bono work in support of the California Mountain Lion Foundation, the Sierra Club and the EPA’s Clean Water Act.
John married his high school sweetheart, Susanne Vordenberg in 1964 and together they raised six children.
In his later years, John became an avid polo player, playing in both Old Snowmass, Colorado and Palm Desert, California.
John is survived by his wife of 54 years, Susanne Vordenberg Clark, brothers Dwight D. Clark of Palo Alto, California, Mark H. Clark of Paso Robles, California, sons James T. Woolaway of Basalt, Colorado, Michael W. Woolaway of Venice, California, Scott M. Woolaway of Prescott, Arizona, John A. Clark of Woodside, California, Oliver H. Clark of Los Angeles, California, and daughter, Robyn Clark Liotta of Carbondale, Colorado, and seven grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life is planned for July at his ranch in Old Snowmass.
Donations can be made in John’s memory to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School and Home Care and Hospice of the Valley.
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