By Matthew Liedke
A pair of ceremonies will be held this weekend to honor Clark Williams who spent 18 years representing North Dakota’s 25th District in Bismarck on top of his lengthy education career.
The first will take place Friday during North Dakota State College of Science’s commencement where Williams and the late John Wall, also a Representative for District 25, will be named honorary associate degree recipients.
The honorary degree program, according to a release from NDSCS, recognizes worthy candidates recommended by either the North Dakota University System Chancellor or the president of the nominating institution.
The second ceremony for Clark will be a social, dinner and honorary program starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 16 at the Wahpeton Eagles Club to celebrate Williams’ public service.
Williams is a graduate of Valley City State University and received his master’s degree in education from North Dakota State University. He first ran for office and was elected as a Democrat in 1982. Williams served for six years until 1988 when he decided not to seek re-election.
During that same time, Williams continued his career in education. He started in Turtle Lake, North Dakota, and later worked for the Sargent Central School District in Forman, North Dakota. He began working for the Wahpeton School District in the fall of 1970.
Williams taught both English and social studies until 1987 when he became principal of Wahpeton High School.
After retiring in 2002, Williams sought to continue his political career and was elected in November of that same year. He served an additional 12 years in the North Dakota House of Representatives until 2014 when he retired from politics. During his time in office, Williams maintained education as his top priority.
“Proper funding, the big thing for me was proper funding for education,” Williams said. “The majority of cost for education is now funded by the state of North Dakota. It makes educational funding on a much fairer basis, rather than depending on local revenue and resources.
“Also, we are doing a better job of funding higher education,” Williams continued. “One area that I’m disappointed with, though, is we cannot cut the cost for students attending higher ed institutions. College costs are a burden for too many families.”
Williams said he was happy both he and Rep. Wall, a Republican during his time in office, will be recognized.
“I’m very pleased with the honor from NDSCS. I’m most pleased that both John Wall and I are sharing it,” Williams said. “Simply because we both worked together on major issues. Neither of us were strong partisans. We tried to represent our constituency.
“The best years I had in the legislature were the last 10 because John and I served together,” Williams continued. “We were the only Democrat and Republican who sat together at the legislature. We both respected each other’s right to be different on issues without being personal.
“I was fortunate to serve 18 years as a Democrat,” Williams concluded. “I am pleased they are honoring me Saturday for my years in the House. It will be a joyous celebration for me, along with my family.”
“I don’t think you would ever find someone more dedicated to the well-being of students than Clark,” said former Richland County Commissioner Perry Miller. “He was always a tireless advocate for education in Bismarck. Not only for public schools but also NDSCS and higher education.”
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