Anthony Clark, first Black chair of Philadelphia’s city commissioners, dead at 62

The committee was established in 1711 and Clark became the first African American chairman ever elected in 2007

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Anthony Clark, the first Black chair of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, died Saturday at the age of 62 after a battle with cancer. 

“Anthony was kind, courteous, and above all a true gentleman,” said current Chairwoman Lisa Deeley in a statement.“He loved his family, he loved to travel, and he loved to share his stories and pictures with us. His family and loved ones are in my prayers.”

“I am grateful to Commissioner Clark and his team for welcoming Al and I in 2012,” said Commissioner Bluestein. “He was the only returning commissioner and was always friendly to us and respectful.”

The committee was established in 1711. Clark became the first African American chairman ever elected in 2007. During his term, he worked closely for eight years with former-Vice Chair and current CEO of the Committee Al Schmidt to enact many reform measures. Per The Philadephia Tribune, the North Philadelphia native was part of a three-member board tasked with overseeing city elections.

Clark presided over 30 primary, general and special elections, 14 as chairman, according to a statement from the Philadelphia City Commissioners.

“While we were very different, politics makes strange bedfellows,” Schmidt said in an online tribute, according to the report. “There wasn’t a single improvement to elections that I proposed that Anthony didn’t support.”

“Everything good that our department did, we did together,” said Schmidt, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Anthony and I couldn’t have been more different, but in the eight years we served together, Chairman Clark voted for every major reform to improve elections in Philadelphia,” Schmidt said. “I considered him a good friend and reliable ally in the fight to improve elections in Philadelphia.”

Clark was the seventh of 10 children and a devout Muslim. Prior to entering the political arena, he held down many odd jobs, including working as a welder and a bus attendant for special-needs children.

Clark is survived by his wife, Ester; mother, Jessie; two stepchildren, and seven siblings.

His funeral service was reportedly held on Monday, May 16, at Masjidullah in Philadelphia.

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