Francis O. Clarke (1928)
A native of Sturgis, Michigan, Frances O. Clark graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1928 with majors in English, French and Philosophy. She completed study at the Conservatory of American Students in Fontainebleau, the Paris Conservatory, and the Julliard School of Music. In 1963, Kalamazoo College conferred upon her the honorary Doctor of Music degree.
In her early career, Frances Clark was a private piano teacher in Albion, Sturgis, and Kalamazoo prior to her joining the faculty of Kalamazoo College in 1945. Here she began the first four-year program in piano pedagogy offered at an American college or university. She left K in 1955 to chair the piano and piano pedagogy departments at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. In 1960, she established the New School for Music Study and was supported in this endeavor by her student and colleague, Louise L. Goss, Kalamazoo College alumna of 1948, who served as the executive vice president of the New School.
Throughout her career, Frances Clark was active as a clinician, lecturer, and consultant, but was best known for the Frances Clark Library for Piano Students, a widely used and highly respected, published, piano pedagogy curriculum. The National conference on Piano Pedagogy honored Ms. Clark in 1984 with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and she was awarded honorary membership in the National Society of Arts and Letters and in the Alpha Sigma Iota Honorary Music Fraternity. In 1987, she received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Kalamazoo College Alumni Association. Upon her passing in April 1988, Ms. Clark was honored by the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival; Ms. Goss accepted the honor on her behalf.