[We feel fortunate to have known Clarke, to have worked with him, and to have been coached by him, and we miss him dearly. Also, be sure to see his Web site, clarkestallworth.com.]
STALLWORTH, CLARKE JACKSON, JR., age 82, of Birmingham, passed away on June 27, 2008. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy serving in the V-12 Program during World War II and in the Pacific on the U.S.S. Walker DDE during the Korean War.
He is survived his wife, Anne Nall Stallworth; daughter, Carole Anne Bennighof; son, Clarke Jackson Stallworth, III; three grandchildren, Alice Anne Bennighof, Henry Bennighof, and Anton Bennighof; sister, Madelynne Thomas of Thomaston, AL; and a host of nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held on July 2, 2008 at 11 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church followed by interment in Elmwood Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers will be Clarke Jackson Stallworth, III, W. Michael Atchison, Howell Raines, Gaines Thomas, Brooks Thomas, and Michael Bennighof. Ridout’s Southside Chapel is directing.
Published in The Birmingham News on 7/1/2008.
Longer tribute, after the jump …
Saturday, June 28, 2008
News staff writer
Clarke J. Stallworth, a gruff bear of a journalist who went toe to toe with Klansmen and gangsters and taught generations of Alabama reporters that their job was to make any subject meaningful to their readers, died Friday at his Birmingham home.
Mr. Stallworth, who was 82, had been suffering from liver cancer.
The son of a physician in the Marengo County town of Thomaston, Mr. Stallworth spent more than 40 years as a newspaperman, working as a reporter and city editor at the Birmingham Post-Herald, managing editor at the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer and city editor and managing editor at The Birmingham News.
A University of North Carolina graduate, he also wrote countless columns for The News and Post-Herald, often drawing on his many and varied experiences as a reporter. Later in life, he became a newspaper consultant, doing 500 workshops in 46 states and British Columbia.
Mr. Stallworth had a large head, a hulking frame and a booming voice. He would put those characteristics to use in encouraging reporters to write simply and directly.
“Clarke Stallworth was a wonderful city editor and a talented coach,” said The News’ Editor Tom Scarritt, whom Mr. Stallworth mentored when he was a young reporter at the paper. “He was an inspiration to many, many journalists here at The News.”
An early Stallworth student was former New York Times editor Howell Raines. A later one was News columnist John Archibald.
“Clarke taught me more about writing than anyone I’ve known,” Archibald said. “`Say what you mean,’ he’d say. `Say it strong. Say it plain. Don’t beat around the bush trying to be too pretty.’ I think about it every time I sit down to write.”
Mr. Stallworth never seemed to lose his delight in being able to go somewhere where something was going on, observe it, talk to people about it and write an account of it for his newspaper. That meant, in the late 1940s, encountering a Klansman who threw a hammer at his head. In 1954, it meant walking the streets of Phenix City to find information about the gangsters who killed an aspiring attorney general.
“I can be as curious as I want to be, and then I can tell what I saw, and heard,” Mr. Stallworth wrote in a 1979 News column. “And this is fun to me.”
Lately, he had been writing a column for Senior Living magazine. Before then, he had been writing columns for the Post-Herald, which closed in 2005.
“He had newspaper ink in his veins,” his wife, Anne, said.
Mr. Stallworth also was a good friend of the state’s renowned storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham of Selma. Windham said he gave her the title for one of her best-known books, “Alabama: One Big Front Porch.”
“He was a reporter,” Windham said Friday. “He knew news and he knew what was important and he knew how to write it and handle it, and his interests were so widespread.”
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Stallworth were incomplete Friday. In addition to his wife, his survivors include a son, Clarke III; a daughter, Carole Anne Bennighof; and three grandchildren.