UPDATED: 10:31 p.m. Elias Clark ’43 LAW ’47 GRD ’57, a long-standing Yale Law School professor remembered for his passion for teaching and love for the University, passed away at his home in Hamden, Connecticut on Saturday. He was 89.
Clark, the Lafayette S. Foster Professor Emeritus of Law, taught at Yale Law for 55 years and served as Master of Silliman College from 1962 to 1981. A widely published academic, Clark was an expert on property and family law as well as estate taxation. Family members and colleagues described him as a dedicated and outgoing professor, highly regarded by faculty and students alike
“He was a very gregarious guy,” said Rob Clark ’77, his son. “He loved people, loved his family and loved dealing with law school students and undergraduates.”
Rob Clark said that his father was a “brilliant student” in school who always knew he wanted to pursue law. Lecturing at Yale Law was one of the highlights of his career, his son added.
Yale Law Professor Michael Graetz said Clark was an inspirational teacher and mentor to generations of Yale students. He added that Clark’s work on trusts and estates and their taxation has been valued across the nation.
“He was an indefatigable, and often indispensable, citizen of the law school and the university,” Graetz said in an email. “Eli was a great storyteller, a raconteur – always with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye Most importantly, he was a kind and gentle man and a loyal friend, a man who reveled in his family.”
Aside from teaching, Rob Clark said the other highlight of his father’s career was serving as Master of Silliman, a post he held for 19 years.
Silliman Master Judith Krauss said Clark was a beloved member of the Silliman community during his tenure as Master, adding that several former students recently named the Master’s study for him and established a scholarship in his name.
“Eli loved his time in Silliman. He told me they were the best years of his life and career,” Krauss said in an email to the News on Monday. “I feel privileged to inhabit [the Master’s study] in his memory.”
Hugh Flick, Dean of Silliman, said that although he did not serve as dean under Clark’s leadership, the Yale Law professor continued to be a presence in the college. Every year, he added, alumni return to the college and speak of the impact Clark and his wife, Annie, had in their lives.
According to the obituary published on the Yale Law website, a memorial service will be held next Friday, June 24, at 11 a.m. in Battell Chapel. Clark is survived by his wife; his daughters Kathy, Susie, Dorothy Chadwick ’81 and Annie; his sons Charlie, Rob and Will; 11 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.