FRANK CLARK, 87 10-term congressman had a heart for helping
The family hopes Clark won't be remembered for his stint in jail.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Frank Clark, a 10-term U.S. Congressman from Lawrence County, will be remembered most for his signature bow tie and willingness to help, and not scandal at the end of his tenure, friends and family say.
The 87-year-old Bessemer man died Tuesday in a New Castle nursing home.
A public memorial service will be sometime in the next few weeks, according to his wife, Patricia. Two sons, Frank Jr. and Terry, both of Massachusetts, also survive.
Clark did time in prison for defrauding the government and evading income taxes in the 1970s.
Patricia Clark said she hopes her husband will be remembered for his willingness to help others.
"He always wanted to work in places where he could help people. He loved being in Congress because he helped so many people," she said.
Clark was Bessemer's police chief for eight years before running for congress in 1954 for the 25th District, which included Lawrence, Beaver and Butler counties.
According to Vindicator files, he was the youngest man elected to Congress in his district and the first Lawrence County resident since 1914.
Mrs. Clark said her husband's first victory was a surprise win for the Democrat because the district was heavily Republican.
Vindicator files show he won by large voting margins at the peak of his popularity. His 68,461 margin over John Loth in 1964 was the biggest ever recorded for a 25th District congressman.
He lost his seat in 1974 to Republican Gary Myers of Butler County.
Longtime neighbor and friend Wilbur Kursel of Bessemer said Clark's interest in politics never ended.
"It seemed he always had connections throughout the whole district. He was always willing to help and even had ambitions of running again in his later years," Kursel said.
He made two unsuccessful tries in 1976 and 1978 at regaining his seat.
Clark was later sentenced to two years in prison, according to Vindicator files. He was indicted and pleaded guilty to defrauding the government by placing people on his federal payroll who were not working for his congressional office.
He also pleaded guilty to evading income taxes on nearly $9,000 of the money he earned in 1972, newspaper files show.