Kelly Clark lifted us all through his wisdom, his passion for the rights of survivors and his deep concern for the well-being of his family, friends, colleagues and law firm. For Kelly it was all about making those who were ravaged and broken, whole human beings again. His work was not limited to being a tireless advocate for survivors but as well for those whose life circumstances knocked them off their feet. He was an active board member of both the William Temple House, a Portland-based community social service agency and the Hazelden Foundation. Unique among us, he had not just the life-long appreciation of those who were fortunate enough to be represented by him and those like me who worked with him, but uniquely, he had the immense admiration of his adversaries.
His clients were empowered by his belief in them and his unfaltering compassion for justice. In my conversations with him after our landmark BSA case, he said to me one day -in a kind of disturbed tone – ‘I cannot believe the number of people who are focusing on the money the jury awarded – sure it’s great- but the verdict means so much more than that in terms of empowering survivors and protecting future generations of scouts. That was my pal Kelly.
Kelly fearlessly struggled right to the very end. He had been through so much in the past year – lovingly attending to his dear wife Sabine who had put up a valiant fight against ALS and who finally succumbed in late October; and then he battled a disease that ravaged his body – one his doctors really never got a handle on. The last time I saw KC was the Sunday before Thanksgiving. He had just been released after about a month in the hospital. He was in a wheel chair, unable to walk and having only very minimal use of his arms. He was very honest about the dire nature of his situation, but he evidenced immense bravery and remarkable resolve. He said to me, “Paulie – I know its bad but I am thinking even if it turns out that I don’t get better and I become a paraplegic, I am not stopping work. I am figuring out this wheelchair which has more bells and whistles than a Ferrari and I’ll just go back to dictation. That was my dear friend KC.
Kelly’s work on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse was part of his greater spiritual journey to make the world a better place – I know I speak for all of you when I say that though his life was cut short, he accomplished that goal and more.