Encyclopedia Titanica

Walter Miller Clark

Walter Miller Clark
Walter Miller Clark

Mr Walter Miller Clark was born in Jefferson, Montana on 13 May 1884.

He was the son of James Ross Clark (1850-1927) and Augusta Miriam Evans (1858-1951). His father was born in Pennsylvania and worked in the US mail service and as a bookkeeper in Montana before becoming vice president of the Los Alamitos Sugar Company, railroad official and president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. He was married to his Ohio-born wife Miriam on 16 April 1878 in Deer Lodge, Montana and had two surviving children: Ella Harriet (b. 1881, later Mrs Henry Carlton Lee) and Walter. 

Walter's uncle was Montana copper magnate William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), a Democratic senator whose son Charles was not only a cousin to Walter but a close personal friend; the two spent much time together in San Mateo and San Francisco. 

The family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1890s and appear in that city of the 1900 census, Walter then still described as a schoolboy. A survivor of the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, he was a graduate of Berkeley, University of California the following year and was a well-liked young man in his local community and in the place of his birth, Montana, where he still had family and where he regularly visited. It was there that he met his future wife, Virginia Estelle McDowell (b. 1885) and they were married in New York on 5 January 1909. The couple were shown residing in Los Angeles on 1910 census and were listed twice; once at the home of his parents at West Adams Street and then at their own home, Severance Street.

The Clark's only child, son James Ross Clark, was born on 24 April 1910. Around that time Walter had taken over from his father as general manager of Los Alamitos Sugar Company.

Walter and Virginia took a belated honeymoon to Europe in early 1912 but cut their trip short to return home and celebrate their son's birthday; they boarded Titanic at Cherbourg as first class passengers on 10 April 1912 (ticket number 13508 which cost £136, 15s, 7d) and occupied cabin C89. 

Walter Miller Clark

Mrs Clark was alone in her cabin when the collision occurred; although noting that the impact was slight she admitted that she felt something was very wrong and immediately dressed and ascended to the promenade deck; she found her husband in the smoking room playing cards with acquaintances. The two made enquiries with officers and other crewmen as to the situation but were told that the ship had struck some ice and that there was no danger. Upon their return to their cabin the Clarks saw a man pass by carrying a lifejacket and soon learned that all passengers were to proceed to the boat deck.

Walter and Virginia dressed warmly and they headed topside where they stopped to watch the proceedings, reportedly meeting with the Astors and Strausses with whom they conversed. Mr Clark reportedly felt no apprehension about the situation and fully expected to see his wife later; the last she saw of him was him hanging over the railing and waving to her. 

Robert Williams Daniel also claimed to have seen Walter and Colonel Astor both leaning against the railing and conversing late in the proceedings; but considering that Daniel left the ship in one of the first lifeboats this is highly questionable. 

Walter Miller Clark died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His estate was estimated at $78,310 with his two-year-old son to inherit $40,000 of that. Further to this, his widow had a hasty and surprise remarriage in September 1912 leading to a custody battle between her and Walter's parents. The result was joint guardianship was awarded to both parties whereby they had custody six months each year in turn.

His widow Virginia was remarried twice and remained living in California where she died in 1958. His son James Ross Clark died on 24 February 1962 in Riverside, California.

A church in Long Beach, California and now named Lakewood Village Community Church was built in 1937 and was named The Walter Miller Clark Memorial Community Church. Clark's mother, Miriam, donated the land and the funds for its construction.

At the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, located at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038, a tribute plaque to Walter Miller Clark is located inside the Mausoleum for Walter's father, James Ross Clark (April 10, 1850 - September 18, 1927). The plaque lists Walter Clark, Lost at Sea, SS Titanic. 

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Walter Miller Clark
Age: 27 years 11 months and 2 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to Virginia Estelle McDowell
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 13508, £136 15s 7d
Cabin No. C89
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Photo: Anaconda Standard (Montana), 17 April 1912
Sacramento Union, 29 May 1912, Two year old boy inherits big estate

Newspaper Articles

The San Francisco Call (16 April 1912) Walter M. Clark a Passenger
Oakland Tribune (17 April 1912) Grave fears felt for the safety of Walter Miller Clark
Recent graduate on Titanic
Anaconda Standard (17 April 1912) Mr and Mrs. Walter M. Clark both former residents of Butte
Associated in the beet sugar industry
New York Times (20 April 1912) MRS. ASTOR IS ILL, BUT NOT CRITICALLY
No alarm felt by relatives and friends
San Francisco Bulletin (20 April 1912) TWO U.C. MEN LOST IN WRECK OF TITANIC
Salt Lake Tribune (24 April 1912) WESTERN SURVIVOR OF TITANIC HERE
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Comment and discuss

  1. Charles Provost

    Charles Provost said:

    Did Mrs. Walter Miller Clark, first class passenger, ever wrote an account of her own concerning her experiences on the Titanic? Any information appreciated. Sincerely, Charles Provost

  2. Mike Herbold

    Mike Herbold said:

    Charles: I don't think she wrote her own account, but Don Lynch gave a detailed recap of her time in his two-part "Titanic Commutator" article entitled "The Clark Family of Los Angeles," in 1991-1992.

  3. Charles Provost

    Charles Provost said:

    Dear Mike, thanks for this information but unfortunatly I'm not a member of the Historical Titanic Society. Do you know where I can obtain a copy of this article? Most appreciated. Sincerely, Charles

  4. Kathleen McNulty

    Kathleen McNulty said:

    Dear all Virginia Clark is a survivor that I have never been able to track down by myself and I see that on this site a DOD in 1958 has been given for her. From the research that I have carried out she appears to have remarried on more than one occassion but I am unaware of her married name at her time of death. Does anybody out there know? Thanks Kathleen McNulty

  5. Phillip Gowan

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Kathleen, she died as Virginia Tanner (Mrs. John) in Los Angeles. Phillip

  6. Mike Herbold

    Mike Herbold said:

    Kathleen: Don Lynch wrote a very detailed two part article on "The Clark Family of Los Angeles" that appeared in the "Commutator" in 1992. It's too bad its not available in reprints by itself, but THS will sell you the back issues. Contact me at [email="[email protected]"][email protected][/email]

  7. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern said:

    Here's a link on the family she married into, which includes a photo of Walter and Virginia's son standing with Walter's parents: http://www.1st100.com/part1/wclark.html There is some info on the Net on Walter's family because of their railroad dealings, but does anyone have any info on Virginia's background? I believe, though I'm not certain, that she was a military brat. Her ET bio says she was born in Montana in 1885, which was an unusual birthplace for a society woman in her day, but then the Clarks were west-coastersBut other sources have described her as a society girl from New York. I've checked my files and can't find my NY Times clippings on her post-Titanic doings. The Times devoted fairly in-depth coverage to her subsequent remarriages to men named Rush and Tanner. She married one, divorced him, married the other, then divorced him and remarried the first one (though I should say that I

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  8. Mike Poirier

    Mike Poirier said:

    Hello Brian- Don Lynch did a very nice article on Virginia in the THS Commutator. It was spread out over two issues. I think 1991-1992 era. You may want to check their website for back issues. Mike

  9. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern said:

    Thanks, Mike! I'll get on that. The first class passengers who interest me the most are the ones of whom less is written, and who don't necessarily fit into the whole New York-Philadelphia society thing, people like the Clarks, Cavendishes, Minahans, Stengels.

  10. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern said:

    By accident this weekend, I stumbled onto the knowledge that two of the three famous Montana "Copper Kings" were uncles to Walter Clark - one by blood; one by marriage. The Copper Kings - William Andrews Clark, Marcus Daly and Augustus Heinze - made their money largely in banking and railroads. They were apparently quite ruthless. They vied with each other for supremacy in business and influence - at least a couple of book have been written about their rivalry, and all three of their lives are fairly well-documented. Clark was Walter's father's brother. Daly was married to Walter's mother's sister. You can read about the Dalys and their home here: http://www.dalymansion.org/html/ Interestingly, Virginia Clark's ET bio puts her birthplace as Montana. I've asked before to no avail if anyone could shed light on what her family was doing there. About ten years ago, I printed Virginia's post-Titanic wedding announcements from

  11. Martin Williams

    Martin Williams said:

    Thanks for this, Brian. I know next to nothing about the Clarks but it is so interesting to learn more of their family connections - which were obviously quite impressive! As with many of the passengers we've discussed here, such information really helps to 'situate' these individuals in the society of the day.

  12. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern said:

    I finally managed to learn a little more about Virginia's life post-Titanic, thanks to the LA Times archive. I've yet to spring for the articles, but will share them once I have. Here's what I've gleaned from the headlines and synopses... In October of 1912, Virginia married Dr. Jack Tanner in New York. Her powerful father-in-law, J. Ross Clark, publicly decried her actions and moved to gain custody of Virginia's son, J. Ross Clark II, on the grounds of willful abandonment. He was initially successful, but Virginia fought back, and it appears the boy was shuttled between his mother and grandparents throughout his early childhood as one side, then the other, won the next battle. One article had Virginia entering the Clarks' home and forcibly removing her son after his grandfather failed to hand him over at the appointed time. J. Ross and Miriam Evans Clark evidently buried both their children. I know that their daughter Ella lived long enough to be married, but I'm not

  13. Martin Williams

    Martin Williams said:

    I've just realised that the sumptuous purple-and-gold Lucile evening dress sold for nearly $36,000 by Doyle Auctioneers back in 2004 was from the wardrobe of Marcus Daly's daughter (and thus Walter Miller Clark's first cousin), Margaret. She married Henry Carroll Brown of Baltimore around 1900 and was active in Society, both in that city and in New York. Sadly, she died very suddenly at her mother's home on Fifth Avenue in April, 1911, predeceasing Clark by almost exactly a year. Apparently a very stylish woman, Margaret's Lucile gown was dated by fashion historians to one of Lady DG's first American collections. As we've discussed elsewhere on the board, Margaret Daly Brown's sister Harriot wed the Hungarian Count Anton Sigray von Febre in 1910 and her nuptials were attended by, among others, the George D. Wideners and Thomas Cardeza - so there were evidently 'Titanic' connections there, too. Armed with wealth and determination, Walter's Daly cousins seem to have done very well

  14. sashka pozzetti

    sashka pozzetti said:

    The auction house had little difficulty dating the lucile dress, because sadly Mrs Brown died very soon after having bought it. There were claims that it was a tribute to Leon Bakst, but I have no idea why. Another dress bought recently by the Victoria and Albert museum, is going to feature in the Lucile book being published by the end of the year. :-)

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Acknowledgements

Gavin Bell, UK
John Clifford, USA
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Jim Kalafus
James Melvin
Hermann Söldner, Germany

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) Walter Miller Clark (ref: #72, last updated: 25th February 2021, accessed 25th January 2022 01:48:09 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/walter-miller-clark.html