Council 4 President and longtime Local 1716 President Clarke King passed away July 17, leaving an outsized legacy of dedication and action.
He was 71 at the time of his passing.
Clarke was the longtime President of AFSCME Local 1716, representing workers for the City of Hartford, the Public Library and the XL Center.
"Clarke was a big man, over 6 feet with an imposing deep voice. He used that voice for working people, especially people of color, who were struggling to have a piece of the American Dream," said Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano.
He served as Secretary of Council 4 from 1997-2012, and as President of Council 4 from 2012 to present.
Clarke was Executive Vice President of the Greater Hartford Central Labor Council for 10 years, and prior to that, Secretary for 10 years. In addition, he sat on the Connecticut AFL-CIO Executive Board. He also served on the Capitol Workforce Development Board and as a labor representative on the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.
“Clarke was passionate about the importance of local union activism and community organizing," said Peggy Buchanan, immediate past president of the Hartford Labor Council. "He believed that each one of us in the labor council had the power - and responsibility - to fight for good paying jobs and to stand up to racial injustice."
She added, "Clarke was a true union brother and one of the bright, golden threads in the fabric of our council, whose work will be forever a part of its history and its work going forward.”
Clarke was also active in the Greater Hartford African American Alliance and a founding member of the Connecticut chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Prior to working for the city of Hartford, Clarke was a factory worker and the United Auto outspoken member of the United Auto Workers (Region 9A), a union inspired by the legacy of Walter Reuther, who always combined economic rights with civil rights.
The Hartford Courant included him in a story about the history of the north end of Hartford after the Rev. King was assassinated.
Clarke was pre-deceased by his wife Loretta King (who died July 20, 2016), his daughter Rosalind (also a member of Local 1716 who worked for the Hartford Public Library) and nephew Asaph Schwapp. He is survived by his son Clarke King, Jr. and a host of family, friends, community and civil rights activists, union members, politicians, clergy and so many others.
"Clarke liked to buy lottery tickets. He always hoped he would win," Luciano reflected. "But he was already a winner and he was already rich in people who loved him, and appreciated what he did for working people and for his community. He was my brother and my friend and I miss him already."
Council 4 extends deepest sympathy but gratitude for Clarke's presence in our lives to his family, friends and co-workers.
In lieu of flowers please make a memorial donation to the American Cancer Society, 825 Brook St. I-91 Tech Ctr, Rocky Hill, CT 06067 or the American Heart Association, 1 Union St. Suite 301 Robbinsville, NJ 08691-4183.
There will be a wake for Clarke King on Monday, July 24, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Carmon Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave. in Windsor. Services will be Tuesday, July 24 at 10 a.m. at the St. Justin-St. Michael Parrish, 230 Blue Hills Ave., Hartford.