Newark: Clark Redeker, an original city leader, remembered for tireless community service

I got the chance to meet Mr. Redeker a few times. He was a class act and a humble guy, despite his many accomplishments. He will be missed. This story ran Sunday (June 8):

NEWARK — Clark Redeker, one of Newark’s original elected leaders, has died. He was 96.

The longtime Newark resident was admired for his tireless service and the witty, upbeat leadership style he used to help found the city, said former Mayor Dave Smith.

“He was so involved with so many aspects of the community, he became a truly iconic Newark figure,” said Smith, 68. “I always told him I wanted to be like him when I grew up.”

Born in Idaho in 1917, Redeker moved with his family to Palo Alto in the 1920s. There, he attended Stanford University, played tuba in the college’s famous band and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1940.

That same year, he married his first wife Marjorie Marliave and they moved to Newark, where Redeker would live for the next 74 years. He soon was promoted to chief chemist of an East Bay paper and chemicals company.

Newark incorporated in 1955, when the rural town had less than 10,000 residents, and he emerged as one of its most active leaders. He served on the first City Council and was its third mayor, serving from 1958 to 1959. In 1954, he joined the Alameda County Fair Association board of directors, a post he held for nearly 50 years.

He was a founding member of the Newark Rotary Club, and served 31 years on the Fremont-based Alameda County Water District board of directors, including seven terms as board president.

The water agency dedicated in his honor its Newark Desalination Facility, which was built on a road the city named Redeker Place.

Even with those accomplishments, he never took himself too seriously, said son Alan Redeker.

“When reminded that Redeker Place was named after him, he’d often reply, ‘I know my place and it’s a dead-end street,'” his son said.

City leaders say his positive mantra — “The good guys are still ahead” — illustrated his optimistic view of life.

“How could you not embrace that philosophy?” Smith asked. “Even when he got older and faced health challenges, I never once saw him be negative.”

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Chris DeBenedetti