Reed City to honor coaching legend Dale Clark at halftime of season-opening football game
REED CITY — Dale Clark is a name long remembered in Reed City athletics and rightfully so.
Clark was a Hall of Fame coach at Reed City from 1941-75 with a huge amount of championship success.
But Reed City students and athletes during Clark’s tenure want to remember their former mentor this year and will do so in a special way in the football season opener.
Vern Schooley, a Reed City graduate and a law partner in Los Angeles, has been among the main spearheaders of the drive to honor Clark. A plaque will be dedicated in his memory at halftime of the Baldwin at Reed City football game Aug. 28.
Clark was elected to the Michigan coaches Hall of Fame in 1980.
“The Reed City athletes and students from the 1950s, as well as Assistant Coach Irv Pallack, now in Yuma, thought it would be important to preserve the memory of a particularly outstanding individual of the era, Coach Dale Clark,” Schooley said. “Every community has their leaders and deserving community personalities but one of that era really stood out. Coach Clark was a major influence on all of us and, in the words of coach Pollack, ‘was a man among men.’”
Clark’s 1950 Reed City football team was voted Class C state champs in an era when there were no playoffs. The same season, Clark’s basketball team was in the state quarterfinals, falling to East Grand Rapids.
Clark also coached powerhouse track squads in the 1950s and 1960s. They won the Central Michigan and Hastings Relays, plus regional championships
Reed City was track champ in 1955 for Class C and was runners-up in 1956. In the 1970s, Clark coached future All-American and Olympic qualifier Herb Lindsey in cross country. He coached football (1941-59), basketball (1941-66), track (1941-69) and cross country (1960-74).
“He coached all the sports as they did back in those days,” Schooley said. “We didn’t have tennis or that type of thing. He had a good record as cross country coach.”
Clark had a stint in the U.S. Army from 1944-46.
Schooley has been in the Long Beach area since the early 1960s and is still working in litigation full-time.
He graduated in 1956 from Reed City and played two years in football for Clark.
“He got me a little scholarship down at Ferris Institute, it was called in those days,” Schooley said. “I felt like I owed him a lot.”
He recalls that Pallack, still living at 89, and Clark “had a pretty good working relationship” in coaching various sports.
Schooley said Pallack suggested that the 1956 grad spearhead the special recognition for Clark.
“(Pallack) had a track field out there (in Yuma, Ariz.) named after him,” Schooley said. “He coached there for years after he left Reed City.”
Schooley still owns a farm at Hawkins and gets back in the area once a year and still has relatives locally.
A portion of the plaque that will be presented is set to read: “Coach Clark, widely respected, will always be remembered for his quiet dignity and even tempered demeanor, allowing him to inspire others to excel.”
It mentions on the plaque that it is courtesy of Vern Schooley, Class of 1956, and Reed City Tool Inc., Nancy and Rod Weck.
“It is in remembrance of what an outstanding individual Dale Clark was, a great leader and not bombastic like your typical football types,” Schooley said. “I hung around football guys all my life, like coaches at Long Beach State. You know how coaches act. Clark was a little different. He was low key and gained your respect and acted like a total gentlemen and could get your respect and motivate you by wanting you to succeed more for you than for him.”
Schooley remembers last seeing Clark at a class reunion many years ago while Clark was still living.
“He was showing the ring he got in 1980 from the coaches Hall of Fame,” Schooley said.
He’s hoping to get 25 athletes that played between 1949 and 1974 for the honor ceremony. The 2-by-3 foot plaque will be hung in the entry way to the athletic field.