July 8, 2002 - Standard-Examiner: Bountiful man's idea created volunteer service organization

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Bountiful man's idea created volunteer service organization

Read and comment on this story from the Standard Examiner on Dale Clark shown in the photo above who says that the International Volunteer Service he started in the 1950's later evolved into the Peace Corps at:

Bountiful man's idea created volunteer service organization*

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Bountiful man's idea created volunteer service organization

Experiment later became the Peace Corps

Mon, July 8, 2002

By RUTH MALAN Standard-Examiner correspondent

BOUNTIFUL -- Many years ago, Dale Clark had the idea that young people could make a difference in Third World countries and set out to prove it. The result was the International Volunteer Service, which he said later evolved into the Peace Corps.

The 91-year-old sits in his home, dressed in a white shirt and tie. His cane leans against the red chair as Clark thoughtfully reminisces and explains his role in the beginning of the organization of the Peace Corps.

The Harvard graduate, who earned his doctorate in philosophy, has his own history intertwined with that of Davis County, the state of Utah and the United States. Clark was born and raised in Farmington, and Clark"s father was once the mayor of Farmington.

Clark served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and felt people of other faiths could also help.

"I got the basic idea (for a volunteer service) while I was on a (LDS) mission in Germany. I wanted America to go on a mission to the world. I thought if we could do it, others can.

"I was sitting under a tree when this idea came to me. This is a great way to train future leaders," Clark said.

"It was well financed," Clark said of the International Volunteer Service. "I paid for it entirely: The cost was $2.40."

Although it was known as John F. Kennedy"s Peace Corps, it really began before Kennedy ran for office, Clark said. He said his efforts in starting a volunteer service are supported by the Congressional Record.

Clark said when Kennedy heard about the International Volunteer Service, he added it to his campaign for president and, in a speech on Oct. 14, 1960, he spoke of the idea.

"He knew he had hit on a good theme, but it was put over by Utah people from Provo and Logan," Clark said. "Everybody thinks Kennedy came up with the idea for the Peace Corps, but that is no such thing."

In March 1961 Kennedy signed an executive order to establish the Peace Corps.

But Clark said he was the one who gathered representatives from different groups and formed a federation and hammered out the details.

"After the war (World War II), Harry Truman"s speech said there was a lot of suffering in poor nations and we should transfer our technology to help them," Clark explained.

Clark still had his dream of helping nations who were not able to help themselves. He could picture young people going to those countries to teach them things such as crop rotation, but his biggest challenge was to persuade the right people.

"At first I couldn"t convince the government it was a good program," Clark said. "They said young people would not go and that they were not competent."

Clark took his message to universities in Utah. He felt Utah State University would have students willing to help others.

"I was somewhat jeered by the fact that you could take kids and they could do a good job," he said.

"I recruited the first people that went. It was an introduction to what is going on today," Clark said.

The first projects were in Jordan, Egypt and then Iraq, Clark said. As crises erupted in the world, the volunteer service expanded.

Clark said he figured helping other countries was better than using soldiers.

"When I first wrote the charter I was trying to justify this insane idea," Clark said.

"I had kind of an odd attitude. I was so sure this thing would work, anyone could do it," Clark said.

Clark has already written 250 pages of history and memoirs and is still writing, with the help of a transcriptionist who comes to his home.

The Peace Corps is not the only thing that is close to Clark"s heart.

Clark, who has worked for the government and traveled extensively, recalls his first meeting with the Pope.

He was escorted down a corridor. "I tried to look nonchalant. I didn"t know what was expected in a visit with the Pope, the head of the Vatican State," Clark said.

He also recollects the July 4 when he was gone from his office in Germany, giving a lecture.

"When I got back my office had been damaged," Clark said as he held up a framed photo of himself in his office with a piece of shrapnel imbedded in the wall behind his desk.

From May 1942 to 1947, Clark served his country in the Navy. He recalls it as a nice experience.

"None of my ships were struck," he said.

To contact correspondent Ruth Malan, leave a message at 629-5220.

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