Dr. Joseph A. Clark, 70

Dr. Joseph Abel Clark, 70, a noted physicist and acoustics researcher who worked for the U.S. Navy, died February 18, 2009 at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., of complications related to prostate cancer. He was a resident of Arlington.

Dr. Clark was born and raised in Lancaster, PA. At an early age, he developed an interest in electronics and mechanics and became one of the country’s youngest ham radio operators. He graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School and in 1960 received his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., where he studied physics and mathematics. He participated in the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Notre Dame and after graduation joined the U.S. Navy where he served as an engineering officer on ships and submarines for six years. After resigning his commission, he earned a Ph.D. in physics and acoustics from the Catholic University of America in 1969.

Dr. Clark devoted most of his career to acoustics research at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in Bethesda, MD. He held several patents in acoustics and nuclear fission research. He also taught and mentored graduate students part-time at Catholic University’s School of Mechanical Engineering in the 1980s. Following his retirement from the federal government in May 2008, he continued to work on acoustics projects as a consultant. He was a member of the Acoustical Society of America and presented numerous papers at the society’s annual meetings, most recently in Paris in June 2008.

A long-time member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, Washington DC Dr. Clark facilitated adult education at the parish and studied philosophy and theology with a group of fellow scientists led by Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. He was dedicated to the formation of Catholic community and helped to found the parish’s Young Adult Community of which he served as a mentor for many years. He started a popular social hour that follows the Sunday evening liturgy. In May 2008, Dr. Clark participated in the annual pilgrimage of the sick organized by the International Order of the Knights of Malta to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

Dr. Clark was preceded in death by his parents, Howard E. Clark and Kathryn Abel Clark Luttenberger of Lancaster, as well as his brother, Robert. His survivors include cousins Elizabeth Clark Thomas of Forest Branch, CA, Ellyn Clark Pittsley of Zionsville, Ind., George V. Alexander of Quarryville, PA, Rosemary Abel Horn of Lancaster, PA, Mary Clair Rank of Harrisburg, PA, Martha Larrabee Sprout of Reading, PA, Mary Elizabeth Fisher of Columbia, PA, and John Barthold of Terra Alta, WV.

An advocate for the homeless, Dr. Clark was a generous supporter of several organizations in Northwest Washington, D.C., that provides health care to the homeless. Charitable contributions in his memory may be directed to Cornerstone Community (202-595-7001), a program providing treatment for recovery from drug addiction; Joseph’s House (202-328-9161), a hospice for homeless persons who are terminally ill; or Christ House (202-328-1100), a hospital for the homeless and uninsured.

Dr. Clark’s Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Holy Trinity Catholic Church of Georgetown, Washington DC on February 21, 2009. Family and friends are invited to attend the graveside service and interment at St. Joseph New Cemetery on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 11am with Rev. Norman Hohenwarter.  Arrangements made by Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home, 717-393-9661. To send the family online condolences visit

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