Biography of Jesse L. Clark
North Central Ohio Biographies





Jesse Lewis Clark. One of the most influential figures in business circles in North Central Ohio is Jesse Lewis Clark, who is president of the Dr. Hess & Clark, Inc., of Ashland. He was born in a log house on the old Lewis farm, in Perry Township, east of Ashland, Sept. 18, 1869, and the story of his early life is one of unremitting toil. His early struggles did not differ materially from those of thousands of other men who have climbed the rugged heights to success, but unlike so many, he has not forgotten to render aid to the poor and unfortunate when he acquired a competence. When he was seven years old his father died and he lived with his grandfather and his uncle. He experienced all the rugged realities that farm life, more than half a century ago, entailed. Early he learned to plow and in his teens was able to do a man's work in the harvest field. He attended the district schools and spent one term at Ashland College.

In his early manhood Mr. Clark became a traveling representative for F. E. Myers & Bro. Company. Seeing possibilities in the stock food business which his friend, Dr. Gilbert Hess had started, Mr. Clark purchased for $250 a half interest in the business, which as a result of their energy, application and persistence made them both millionaires. At the beginning of the partnership Mr. Clark drove about in a buckboard over the dirt roads of ten counties of Ohio selling stock food and cattle remedies which his partner, Dr. Hess, manufactured in a little frame building on the north side of East Second Street. Now the plant, one of the largest in the city of Ashland, employs hundreds of people and scores of commercial travelers represent Dr. Hess & Clark, Inc., in various parts of the nation.

After the death of Dr. Hess in September, 1923, Mr. Clark purchased his partner's interest. Associated with him in the business now are his two sons, H. M. and Donald.

In the days of his youth, Mr. Clark dreamed of possessing a farm with white buildings and white fences some day. Years ago this dream was realized, and it is now the research farm on which are conducted experiments and demonstrations.

Mr. Clark is a man of many interests. He is president of the Farmers Bank of Ashland, a trustee of Ashland College, has been at the head of Red Cross work in the county for many years, served for a long time as superintendent of Trinity Lutheran Sunday School, was a leader in the movement for good roads, besides being interested in numerous other organizations, among them being the Y. M. C. A. He was one of the first to be interested in the Boy Scout movement. One of Mr. Clark's greatest benefactions is Samaritan Hospital on South Center Street, Ashland, one of the finest and most completely equipped institutions of the sort in North Central Ohio. It was dedicated May 28, 1912, and has been doing a wonderful work ever since. Grounds, buildings, and equipment cost Mr. Clark considerably more than $100,000, and could not now be duplicated for double that amount. In giving this hospital he stipulated that no sick person should ever be refused care and treatment there, even though that person had not a penny. Another monument of his generosity will be the public library at the southwest corner of West Main Street and Claremont Avenue. Building and equipment will cost more than $100,000.

In 1929 when the Ashland Community Chest was organized, Mr. Clark became the head of it. It functioned most efficiently and a still greater work is being done through the Community Chest for 1931, ten different organizations and societies being beneficiaries. Mr. Clark, as president of the board of governors, has given wonderful service in behalf of this community undertaking.

Mr. Clark married the sweetheart of his youth, Miss Mary Swineford. They have two sons, H. M. and Donald Clark; two daughters, Mrs. Thomas W. Casey, of Akron, and Miss Marjorie Clark, and two grandchildren. It may be said that Mr. Clark is one of the happiest men in Ashland, and he has a right to be happy for he has not only built up a great industry in which hundreds of people are employed, a business that steadily increases year after year, but he has used and is still using his wealth to bring health and happiness to great numbers of people. Nor are his benefactions confined to the giving of money, generous though they have been. This busy man of affairs finds time to render abundant service in every movement for the advancement of his home community, and to serve as head of the laymen's stewardship movement of the United Lutheran Church of America, which was organized in 1907 as the result of a stirring address he made in that year at the General Synod of the Lutheran Church. Enrolled in the Committee of 500 of which movement of the Lutheran laymen Ashland's beloved citizen, J. L. Clark, has been the head ever since its organization, are some of the most influential laymen of the church, many of whom pledge a $1,000 a year for life and none less than $100 a year to this work, which has as objectives the systematizing of the financial affairs of the church and the education of the highest type of young men for the Christian ministry, efficient men for the work of an increasingly efficient church.

One of the stained glass windows in Ashland Trinity Lutheran Church portrays the Good Samaritan and bears the motto, "We will go about doing good." In his boyhood the parable of the Good Samaritan impressed Mr. Clark deeply and the years have intensified in him the ideal of "Service above Self." The spirit of social service is the dominating influence in his life.

From:
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931


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