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Fifty Years of Begging: Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke and Christian Children's Fund

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A consummate and innovative entrepreneur and fundraiser, by the 1950s Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke was running the world's largest Protestant organization dedicated to the welfare of children. Yet while Dr. Clarke's life and accomplishments make him one of the twentieth century's foremost and beloved figures in philanthropy, his legacy is sometimes recorded with confusion, contra A consummate and innovative entrepreneur and fundraiser, by the 1950s Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke was running the world's largest Protestant organization dedicated to the welfare of children. Yet while Dr. Clarke's life and accomplishments make him one of the twentieth century's foremost and beloved figures in philanthropy, his legacy is sometimes recorded with confusion, contradiction, and even outright error. In Fifty Years of Begging, Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke III, author and grandson to Dr. Clarke, navigates the complexities of Dr. Clarke's personality and intellectual life--and yes, even their contradictions--to offer a detailed and heartfelt profile of this compelling man. Based on hundreds of newspapers and extensive archival research--including a large cache of family papers--Fifty Years of Begging is inspired by Dr. Clarke's own badly fragmented and scattered manuscript of his unfinished memoirs. Although both Dr. Clarke and his grandson called Richmond their home, while growing up the author did not know his grandfather well. On the other hand, his work on his grandfather Clarke's biography did set him on an exciting and enjoyable road of discovery, one that would reveal Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke's proud heritage and lasting legacy of philanthropy and service.


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A consummate and innovative entrepreneur and fundraiser, by the 1950s Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke was running the world's largest Protestant organization dedicated to the welfare of children. Yet while Dr. Clarke's life and accomplishments make him one of the twentieth century's foremost and beloved figures in philanthropy, his legacy is sometimes recorded with confusion, contra A consummate and innovative entrepreneur and fundraiser, by the 1950s Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke was running the world's largest Protestant organization dedicated to the welfare of children. Yet while Dr. Clarke's life and accomplishments make him one of the twentieth century's foremost and beloved figures in philanthropy, his legacy is sometimes recorded with confusion, contradiction, and even outright error. In Fifty Years of Begging, Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke III, author and grandson to Dr. Clarke, navigates the complexities of Dr. Clarke's personality and intellectual life--and yes, even their contradictions--to offer a detailed and heartfelt profile of this compelling man. Based on hundreds of newspapers and extensive archival research--including a large cache of family papers--Fifty Years of Begging is inspired by Dr. Clarke's own badly fragmented and scattered manuscript of his unfinished memoirs. Although both Dr. Clarke and his grandson called Richmond their home, while growing up the author did not know his grandfather well. On the other hand, his work on his grandfather Clarke's biography did set him on an exciting and enjoyable road of discovery, one that would reveal Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke's proud heritage and lasting legacy of philanthropy and service.

34 review for Fifty Years of Begging: Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke and Christian Children's Fund

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Banzer

    This study examines the life of a man who left a lasting legacy on behalf of children. Since their deaths a half-century ago, J. Calvitt Clarke and his wife Helen have become largely forgotten. Their grandson and namesake J. Calvitt Clarke III resurrects the story of a man who devoted most of his life to helping the world's children by making appeals for charitable donations. Clarke was responsible for organizations devoted to efforts aimed at helping children. Much of his work was aimed at allev This study examines the life of a man who left a lasting legacy on behalf of children. Since their deaths a half-century ago, J. Calvitt Clarke and his wife Helen have become largely forgotten. Their grandson and namesake J. Calvitt Clarke III resurrects the story of a man who devoted most of his life to helping the world's children by making appeals for charitable donations. Clarke was responsible for organizations devoted to efforts aimed at helping children. Much of his work was aimed at alleviating hunger. The most well-known of these endeavors was known as the Christian Children's Fund. Some aspects of Clarke's life are puzzling though. His was a life riddled with human imperfections. He had a tendency to not get along well with people who he placed in important roles. I was left with the feeling that the reason for this was that he was too much of a perfectionist. Traits that can be an asset also can cause problems if not constantly put in check. Clarke was a prolific writer over a number of decades. His writing wasn't what you would guess would have occupied a man of such integrity. He used pen names to produce love stories targeted to women. Very few who knew Clarke had any knowledge of this activity that generated good supplemental income. One must wonder what the reactions would have been had it had become known that he produced books exploiting female sexual desire. There is some interesting trivia in the book. The grandson found a newspaper article detailing how Clarke fell into a river while working on a job that included lifeguard duties. His employer had hired the young man unaware that he could not swim. The resulting headline: “Lifesaver Who Couldn't Swim Almost Drowns.” During the first World War, he gave speeches in cinema theaters promoting the American side of the war effort. He was one of the people commonly called Four Minute Men. They promoted the American role in the war effort. Their name came about because the talks they gave filled the time that it took to change the film reels for the single projector. What was called Christian Children's Fund is now known as Child Fund International. It works similarly to how Clarke made his organization function. He had a special way of encouraging people to continue giving financial support. When a donor decided to “adopt” a child, a picture of that child was mailed to that person. The same kind of method is still employed to encourage donor connections with children. The book is called Fifty Years of Begging: Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke and Christian Children's Fund. It's a fascinating life that the grandson has resurrected in print. Clarke's wife preceded him in death in 1967 by three years. J. Calvitt and Helen Clark are buried in Richmond, Virginia. Their lives are worthy of remembering.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  5. 5 out of 5

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  33. 4 out of 5

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