Mills Clark
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Obituary of Mills Gardner Clark

Gardner Clark passed away at his home at Kendal in Ithaca on July 9, 2017. He was born on September 21, 1917, in Chillicothe, Ohio, to Marjorie Gardner and Mills Gomberg Clark. He was the oldest of three brothers.

He grew up in Cleveland, graduated from Harvard Universityin 1939 and received a M.A. in Economics at the University of Minnesota before enlisting in the Navy. During World War IIhe served for 4 ½ years as a supply officer, first in North Africa, then Italy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After the war he returned to Harvard where he completed a PhD in Economics and met his future wife, Florence Adams, then an undergraduate at Wellesley. After their marriage in 1949 they settled in Ithaca where he began a long career as a professor at Cornell University.

Professor Clark was a specialist in Comparative Economics and Economic History. Early in his career he focused on communist economic systems, publishing major studies on the Soviet and Chinese steel industries. He later developed expertise in Western European labor markets, exploring the impact of public policy on job creation and migration.

Gardner always loved travel. As a teenager he had been in the first group of students to live abroad as a participant in the Experiment in International Living. He was gifted in world languages (though he insisted it was just hard work and memorization), and eventually became fluent in French, Italian, Russian, and German. In 1957 he was among a small group of international scholars permitted to visit the Soviet Union. His love of travel led to other lifelong passions. To say he was an avid skier would be an understatement. He was a regular on the slopes of Greek Peak, downhill skiing until age 91. From the 1950s through the 70s his favorite activity was taking his family on extended stays to Switzerland, Italy, and France. He and his wife continued to make annual trips to Europe until he was in his late 80s. His range of interests included music, social dance, photography, maps, and mountains. He could tell you the vertical drop of any skiable mountain range in the world. An exercise enthusiast, Gardner also played a lot of tennis. He pursued all his passions with both discipline and affection during his whole healthy, long life. 

He was a caring father, grandfather and uncle, always happy to be present in the lives of the younger generation, a proud promoter of achievements and supportive through difficult times. He loved his wife and family above all. His honest, frank, vigorous, and unique character will always be with them in memory and love.

He is survived by his wife, Florence (Ithaca), children Beth Goldsmith and her husband Art (Brookline, MA) Crandall Clark and his wife Liz (Somers Point, NJ) Carolyn Clark and her husband Geoff Cullen (Newfield, NY), and five grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, two step-grandchildren, and a first step-great-grandchild. 

A private family ceremony is planned. Online condolences may be left at