Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

JFK: 50 years after

November 21, 2013

Clark: He was an elegant man

GLASGOW — This is a day for remembering the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.

Fifty years ago today, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He had served in the Presidency for about 1,000 days, and he was only 46 years old.

Many of those who lived through the events of a half century ago, remember Kennedy for his bold leadership and as one who challenged his fellow Americans. Many who knew him remember his intelligence, his incredible energy and his charismatic personality.

When Glasgow resident Robert O. “Bob” Clark remembers Kennedy, he recalls an “elegant man” who smiled a lot and was very much at ease with people. “He was a guy you would like to sit down with and have a drink.”

Mr. Clark’s impressions are first hand.

“In the hotel business, you meet interesting people,” Clark recalled in conversation at his Leech Court home. He met several “interesting people” during his career.

Born in Switzerland, Clark spent his early training years in Swiss hotels. In 1956, he was appointed assistant manager with duties in guest relations at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Then in 1960, he became manager of the Hilton Inn in San Francisco. That’s where he met Senator Kennedy, who would become the President just a couple of months later.

“I checked in Senator Kennedy, visiting for a fundraiser and reception.” Clark pauses and then suggests, “This was probably his last stop before going to Washington.”

After the reception, Kennedy went to his room. “He called me and ordered a steak and Amstel Beer for dinner. I personally took him his dinner and had a nice chat with him.”

In a photograph from Clark’s personal collection, Kennedy and Clark pose in the hotel. Bob doesn’t need the picture, though, to remember that encounter. He can still picture Kennedy as he found him in the hotel room when they had a casual meeting. “He was relaxed with his sleeves rolled up.”

Before Kennedy left the next morning, he called from his room and ordered breakfast. Clark’s wife Betty Carol was at the hotel that morning and took the call. They both found Kennedy to be a most pleasant hotel guest.

A month before the President was assassinated, Bob and Betty Carol made the move to Glasgow.

“On November 22, 1963, while on the way to a UK ballgame, we heard the news on the radio that he had died,” Bob remembers.

These days, Mr. Clark says he cannot bring himself to watch the remembrances of the assassination on TV. He would rather remember Kennedy as he encountered him 53 years ago this month.

Read more of this story in the print or digital Glasgow Daily Times.

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