Former City Councilwoman Augusta Clark dies

Former City Councilwoman Augusta Clark, a well-loved Philadelphia figure, has died. She was 81.
October 13, 2013 8:35:43 PM PDT
A librarian, a lawyer, a politician - there are so many ways to describe former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Augusta Clark but so many simply knew her as 'Aunt Gussie.'

"She would make you feel, if you talked with her and communicated with her, like you were the most important person in the whole world," said longtime friend and Pennsylvania House of Representative Cherelle Parker.

Clark died Sunday morning at the age of 81 at Lankenau Medical Center. She had been ill for a number of years and suffered from lung and heart problems.

However those who knew her are quick to tell you, the woman seen over the years on oxygen, was always full of life.

"You know she was quick witted. You know she was a fierce debater. She never had a problem letting anyone know what was on her mind," said State Rep. Parker.

Clark was born March 5th, 1932 in Alabama. Her parents raised her in West Virginia where she attended West Virginia State College before moving to Philadelphia in the 1950s.

She eventually married Leroy Clark and they had two children, Mark and Adrienne.

The wife and mother knew the importance of higher education and earned degrees at Drexel University and a law degree from Temple University. She later practiced law before seeking public office.

In 1980, she was the second black woman ever to be elected to Philadelphia City Council.

She retired in February of 2000 after years of being a voice for public education and working to revitalize rundown neighborhoods across the city.

Clark also mentored young people like then 17-year-old Parker who now represents the 200th district which includes Roxborough and Mt. Airy.

"Gussie Clark was responsible for making sure that women had a seat at the table as it related to local government in the City of Philadelphia," she said. Philadelphia Councilman Jim Kenney said when he met Clark, at the start of his first term, he was 32 years old and had his own thoughts about life, politics and the city.

"She was wise enough and kind enough to kick me in the butt when she needed to and take me her under her wing when I needed it to teach me about other people's cultures in this city, other people's experiences. We were both at-large members and I needed to have an at-large view. She helped give me that view," said City Councilman Jim Kenney.

Clark adored her four grandchildren and offered them and others what they called 'gussie-isms' - inspirational words they'll always remember.

At the Clark family home in Wynnefield Sunday night, Parker recalled some of those words when she spoke with Action News.

"Never allow anyone else to define who you are and where you will go in life and who you will be," said Parker.

Funeral arrangements are still being planned.


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