Park in Menlo Park is renamed for war hero and Belle Haven activist Karl E. Clark
Congress person Anna Eshoo, State Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymember Marc Berman Menlo Park City Council members Ray Mueller, Cat Carlton, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki, along with family and friends of the late Karl E. Clark, gathered on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 15, to dedicate a park named in Clark’s honor for his many contributions to the community.
Located across from the Boys and Girls Club, the single-acre park was renovated as part of the Belle Haven neighborhood improvement program. The project included new tube steel fencing for the tot lot, new concrete walks, new site furnishings, irrigation modifications, planting and park lighting.
On June 28, 2017, the Parks and Recreation Commission received a request from residents Julie Shanson and Cecilia Taylor (pictured right), representing Belle Haven Action, requesting to rename Market Place Park after Karl Clark, a long time Belle Haven resident and decorated WWII veteran.
On October 25, 2017, the Parks and Recreation Comission voted unanimously to support the renaming. The recommendation was brought before the City Council for final decision on November 14, 2017, where they too voted unanimously to support the renaming.
Mr. Clark was serving as a steward first class aboard the USS Aaron Ward when Japanese kamikazes attacked the destroyer near Okinawa in May 1945. Mr. Clark was credited for saving the ship, single-handedly putting out the many fires threatening to sink it and for rescuing injured shipmates, carrying them to the infirmary for urgent medical care even though he was badly injured himself.
Even though the destroyer’s captain acknowledged that Mr. Clark had saved the ship, it took more than six decades to be fully recognized for his actions, because of his race. Mr. Clark, received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with the Combat Distinguished Device in 2012.
A video of Mr. Clark telling his story can be viewed here.
Beyond his accomplishments in the military, Mr. Clark made many contributions to the community throughout his lifetime as a community activist and mentor. He was an accomplished author of three books and helped establish the Onetta Harris Community Center and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.
Photos by Robb Most (c) 2018; pictured in third photo is Lois Reed, a close friend of Clark