Frederick J. Clarke – Lieutenant General, United States Army

Courtesy of the United States Army:

Lieutenant General Frederick J. Clarke
Chief of Engineers
(August 1, 1969-July 31, 1973)


Born in Little Falls, New York, on March 1, 1915, Frederick Clarke was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers in 1937 after graduating fourth in his Military Academy class.

Clarke received a master's degree in civil engineering from Cornell University in 1940 and later attended the Advanced Management Program of the Graduate School of Business, Harvard University.

During World War II he commanded a battalion that helped construct a military airfield on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, and he served in Washington,
D.C., with Headquarters, Army Service Forces.

After the war Clarke worked in the atomic energy field for the Manhattan District and the Atomic Energy Commission at Hanford, Washington, and at the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico.   As the District Engineer of the Trans-East District of the Corps in 1957-59, he  was responsible for U.S. military construction in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and he initiated transportation surveys in East Pakistan and Burma.

In the decade before his appointment as Chief of Engineers, Clarke was Engineer
Commissioner of the District of Columbia (1960-63); Director of Military  Construction in the Office of the Chief of  Engineers (1963-65); Commanding General of the Army Engineer Center and Fort Belvoir and Commandant of the
Army Engineer School (1965-66); and Deputy Chief of Engineers (1966-69).   As Chief of Engineers Clarke guided the Corps as it devoted increased attention to the environmental impact of its work.

General Clarke was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

General Clarke was buried in Section 32, Grave 387, Arlington National Cemetery, on 26 February 2002.

From a contemporary press report:

Lieutenant General Frederick J. Clarke, 86, who served as the Engineer Commissioner for the District of Columbia from 1960 to 1963 and as the Army chief of engineers from 1969 to 1973, died of cancer February 4, 2002, at the Fairfax Army Retirement Home at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

He had lived in the Washington area since the 1960s, settling in Alexandria.

General Clarke was appointed by resident Dwight D. Eisenhower in early 1960 to be one of the three commissioners responsible for the administration of the District in the days before there was a Mayor and D.C. Council.

As a highlydecorated officer from the Army Corps of Engineers, General Clarke had evacuated rock quarries in Okinawa, built barracks in Pakistan and trained troops for nuclear warfare by the time he took the post, which he would later call one of his most difficult.

He was the technician-in-chief, called to address the still-familiar problems of traffic gridlock, economic development and low levels of funding. One of his first actions was to give a green light to new sewage projects to prevent further spillage of waste
into the polluted Potomac River.

At one point early in his term, he was the only commissioner available for full-time duty, because one post was vacant and the other commissioner had suffered a heart attack.

In the early 1960s, General Clarke participated in talks that led to the compact agreement for construction of the Metro system. As chairman of the District's zoning commission, he participated in the debate over the controversial Three Sisters Bridge and over the planned freeway through the heart of the District.

He was rousted out of bed on the morning of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961 to preside over the task of emergency snow removal.

Through it all, General Clarke, who had a low-key managerial style, worried about being spread too thin — he served on more than 20 boards and commissions at one point, with limited staff — but was still respected for his thorough analyses.

Later, he was among the first heads of the Army Corps of Engineers to be faced with the concerns of the nascent environmental movement, which had been highly critical of the agency and its wetlands policy. After the Environmental Policy Act of 1969, General Clarke presided over the reevaluation of more than 600 projects and established an advisory board comprising leaders from environmental groups.

General Clarke, a native of Little Falls, New York, where he became the town's first Eagle Scout, was fourth in his graduating class from the U.S. Military Academy in 1937. He received a master's degree in engineering from Cornell University. He also completed graduate studies at the Army War College.

During World War II, General Clarke commanded a battalion of the 38th Combat Engineers during the construction of the military airfield on Ascension Island, a key refueling point for transatlantic flights to Africa.

He served as a logistics planner on General George C. Marshall's staff. He also was an early developer of the “Red Ball Express” operation that kept European beachheads supplied. As the war in Europe ended, he was involved in the frenzied planning effort to redirect supplies to the Pacific.

After the war, he commanded the Hanford, Washington, site that produced plutonium for early atomic weapons. Later in the 1940s, he was executive officer of the special weapons project at Sandia Base, New Mexico., in charge of instructing troops in atomic warfare.

In the 1950s, he was an Army engineer for the Trans-East District, with  responsibilities ranging from Saudi Arabia to Burma.

Among his decorations were two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

After a 37-year career, he retired in 1973 and served as executive director of the National Commission on Water Quality. In the 1980s, he was a consultant to the Tippetts, Abbett, McCarthy, Stratton engineering firm.

He was a president and fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers, a president of the Army Distaff Foundation and a member of the Army-Navy, Chevy Chase and Cosmos clubs.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Isabel Clarke of Fort Belvoir; three children, Warren, of Newton, Mass., Isabel Stevens of Alexandria and Nancy Clarke of Verona, N.J.; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

CLARKE, FREDERICK J., Lieutenant General, United States Army (Retired)
(Age 86)

Of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on February 4, 2002. Beloved husband of Isabel Clarke;
father of Warren E. Clarke, Isabel C. Stevens and Nancy S. Clarke. Also
survived by five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A funeral service
will be held on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 at 1 p.m. at Fort Myer Chapel (Old Post Chapel). Interment will follow at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington.

In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions in his name to a charity
of your choice.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 06/12/1937 – 07/30/1969
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/01/1915
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/04/2002
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 02/26/2002

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