Penn People

John Murdock Clarke

1895 - 1933

Penn Connection

  • A.B. 1917
  • President of senior class
  • President of Christian Association
  • Managing editor of The Pennsylvanian
  • Spoon Man, Class of 1917
  • Member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sphinx Senior Society
  • Rhodes Scholar 1919
  • Namesake, Clarke Lodge at University Camp at Green Lane

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 6, 1895, John Murdock Clarke attended Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh before entering the University of Pennsylvania as a member of the Class of 1917. Clarke was a distinguished student at Penn. He was president of the senior class and also its Spoon Man, president of the Christian Association, managing editor of The Pennsylvanian, and a member of the Sphinx Senior Society and the Phi Beta Kappa honorary fraternity.

Clarke served overseas in France upon graduation and the outbreak of World War I, first with the YMCA and then as a second lieutenant in the 61st Field Artillery. Upon his return, Clarke was named a 1919 Rhodes Scholar, allowing him to study law at the University of Oxford’s Exeter College.

Clarke was law secretary to former Chief Justice Robert von Moschzisker of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a time, and later a member of the the law firm of Lewis, Morgan, and Blockius of Philadelphia. He married Martha C. Gleffer in 1928, with whom he had two children, Catherine Converse Clarke and John Murdock Clarke, Jr.

Clarke died suddenly at age 38 on June 11, 1933, at his home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, of suspected heart disease.

During his time at Penn, Clarke had been a counselor and head counselor at the University Camp at Green Lane, owned by the University’s Christian Association. He also served on the camp’s Committee of Management following graduation. In 1940, Clarke Lodge was erected at the University Camp at Green Lane in his memory.