NCRF: Honoring the Clarks of court reporting

Last fall the National Court Reporters Foundation established the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. The Institute was officially unveiled during the Student Seminar Program at the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo in New York City with an inaugural event that featured a panel on professional dress.

Named for the late Corrinne Clark — wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian-historian — the Institute was made possible by a generous donation made by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin. At the same time, Hamer also made a generous donation to the Foundation to support a scholarship in honor of Robert. The scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $1,800 annually through 2019 to an eligible court reporting student. The first scholarship was awarded by NCRF in October 2015.

“Corrinne loved the national court reporters [organization] with a capital L. She attended all the conferences with Bobby and shared his devotion to the court reporting profession,” said Hamer and noted that Corrinne often mentioned her wish to make substantial contribution to NCRF. “When Corrinne passed away, I learned that I was one of her beneficiaries. I realized that I could make her wish come true. I was delighted that the Professional Institute could be named after her. Corrine always supported the goal of being a professional in her own work, and she especially valued professionalism among Bob’s colleagues.”

Although NCRF Board of Trustees chair Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, Minneapolis, Minn., never had the pleasure of meeting Corrinne, she said that she feels strongly that Corrinne would be honored to have her legacy associated with an initiative focused on supporting and training the industry’s newest professionals and helping to ensure their long-term success in court reporting.

“The NCRF Trustees felt privileged to name the Professionalism Institute after Corrinne especially in acknowledgment of and appreciation for a significant gift to the Foundation. We are grateful that Corrinne’s love for Bob, his profession, and especially NCRF, led to her legacy gift to the Foundation,” Ballman said.

Although not a court reporter herself, as a journalist Corrinne actively kept up with current affairs and was active in politics, said Hamer. She was a founding member of a women’s Los Angeles–based group that focuses on bringing political issues to its members and, in the early days of television, was an active participant in a number of shows as well as a choreographer for them. Hamer said that her love of dance led her to learn the native dances of Hawaii, which she later taught to students in the Los Angeles area.

“Those who knew Corrinne always remembered her flaming red hair, her beautiful smile, and her distinctive laugh. I’m certain Corrinne would be proud to have her name attached to the Professionalism Institute,” Hamer said.

The Professional Institute’s first event was well-attended and featured a panel of professional court reporters discussing proper dress in the workplace. It included a stylist from Macy’s department store who offered tips to achieve a professional look on a budget.

In the future, the CCPI will secure articles for publication in the JCR that will be related to the court reporting and captioning profession. The articles will address student and new professional-specific issues to provide a resource for those beginning their professional careers. The CCPI will also support various presentations at future NCRA Conventions & Expos.

More information about the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute or the Robert H. Clark Scholarship is available through NCRA.org/NCRF.

 About the Clarks

Corrine Clark was born in San Diego, Calif., and grew up in the Ocean Beach area. She attended St. Mary’s Academy as a child and graduated from Immaculate Heart High School where she played on the school’s tennis team. Although her parents wanted her enter the convent, Corrinne chose journalism instead and attended Los Angeles City College. There she met her future husband, Robert H. Clark, who was also a journalism student.

After marrying, the Clarks lived in Long Beach. During World War II, Robert joined the U.S. Coast Guard as a court reporter while Corrinne worked for the Long Beach Independent, which later became the Long Beach Press Telegram.

A lover of dance, Corrinne began work as a choreographer for a number of early television shows. She was also a participant on Art Linkletter’s People are Funny and House Party, as well as Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life.

In 1993, Robert H. Clark, who voluntarily served as NCRA’s librarian and historian for 26 years, donated his extensive college of books, artifacts, and documents related to court reporting to NCRF to help establish the Robert H. Clark Library, which is housed at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. He was honored with the title of Librarian-Historian Emeritus in 1997. He passed away in 2000. Corrinne passed away in 2005.

During in October 2015, Chaya Shusterman, a student from Brooklyn, N.Y., who is nearing completion of her court reporting education at the New York Career Institute, was named the first recipient of NCRF’s Robert H. Clark Scholarship.

“Robert Clark was totally dedicated to court reporting and curious about everything,” said Donner Hamer, Robert’s cousin who made the generous donation to support the scholarship in his honor. “He always wanted to know how things worked and how to use words to explain it. Everywhere he went, he looked for new ways to use words and interesting court reporting tools.”