UNITED STATES NEWS

Former US Sen. Dick Clark, an Iowa Democrat known for helping Vietnam War refugees, has died at 95

Sep 21, 2023, 11:24 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Dick Clark, a Democrat who unexpectedly won a single term representing Iowa in the 1970s after campaigning by walking around the state, and who later played a key role in aiding refugees after the Vietnam War, has died. He was 95.

Clark died Wednesday at his home in Washington, said his daughter, Julie Clark Mendoza.

Clark was elected to the Senate in 1972 after launching a longshot bid against two-term Republican Sen. Jack Miller. With little money for his campaign, Clark opted to walk across Iowa during numerous trips in 1972.

The walks, on which he often was joined by supporters, were credited for his convincing victory with 55% of the vote.

During his time in the Senate, Clark devoted time to Africa, pushing for policies to help newly independent nations and to oppose apartheid.

Clark lost in his run for reelection in 1978, and he believed his work in Africa prompted funding against his campaign.

After leaving the Senate, President Jimmy Carter appointed Clark as ambassador-at-large for a refugee crisis related to the Vietnam War. Clark worked with Congress to help create a refugee policy and set up a structure to help refugees.

Later, Clark joined the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit, and focused on helping members of Congress better understand specific foreign policy issues. He also worked to restore relations with Vietnam, including arranging meetings between U.S. and Vietnamese officials.

Clark was born Sept. 14, 1928, in the unincorporated community of Paris, Iowa. His parents made a living selling eggs door to door and later opened a grocery store.

He was drafted into the Army and served in Europe from 1950 to 1952. He attended Upper Iowa University and the University of Iowa, obtaining bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

Survivors include his wife, his daughter and two sons, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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Former US Sen. Dick Clark, an Iowa Democrat known for helping Vietnam War refugees, has died at 95