Two small museums in Kodiak, Alaska learned this week that they will each receive a very big
donation. The late Dr. Donald W. Clark (1932–2018), a historian and archaeologist, named both the
Kodiak History Museum and the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in his will. The Kodiak
History Museum, who facilitates exploration of the natural, cultural, and artistic heritage of Kodiak
Island and its surrounding communities will receive $1,176,043 from Clark’s estate. The Alutiiq
Museum, who works to preserve and share the heritage and living culture of the Alutiiq people will
receive $1,274,047. For both organizations, Clark’s gifts are the largest ever received.

“We knew Dr. Clark had named both organizations in his will,” said Alutiiq Museum Board Chair
Margaret Roberts. “But neither organization knew the amount of the bequest until this week. What a
surprise! We are so very grateful for his generosity. Quyanaasinaq Don! (Big Thanks).”
The contributions were made in memory of Dr. Clark and his parents, Basil W. Clark and
Dorothy E. Clark. The Clark family relocated to Kodiak during World War II. Basil bought the gas station
and auto repair shop in downtown Kodiak, a business he ran for many years. Here, Clark learned to
repair cars, but his real interest was the outdoors—fishing, boating, camping, and hiking. After
graduating from Kodiak High School in 1951, he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from the
University of Alaska and served in the U.S. Military. His return to Kodiak coincided with the launch of
the Konyag-Aleut project, a multi-year effort to study the cultural history of the Alutiiq people. Clark
volunteered on an archaeological field crew, a career altering step that led to decades of prolific
research on Kodiak history.

The Kodiak History Museum and the Alutiiq Museum, collegial institutions that lie just two
blocks apart, both have close ties to Clark’s research. As a young man, Clark helped to found and run
the Kodiak Historical Society and served as its first president. A number of the Kodiak’s History
Museum’s collections are donations from his research, and he supported the organization throughout
his life.

“His contributions to Kodiak’s history are immeasurable,” said Kodiak History Museum
Executive Director Sarah Harrington. “Clark’s work pioneered an understanding and respect for early
history and prehistory of Kodiak, and through planned giving, he ensured that our cultural
organizations will continue to thrive long into the future. The bequest is transformative to our ability to
serve our mission to preserve and share Kodiak’s history.”

In his later years, Clark worked closely with Alutiiq Museum staff members, participating in
archaeological excavations and surveys, providing meticulous evaluations of publications, mentoring
students at all levels, and donating his personal papers and library to the organization.
For staff members at both organizations the bequests are a personal pat on the back. Alutiiq
Museum Executive Director April Counceller said, “These gifts are a tremendous acknowledgement of
the value of our work and of Don’s faith in the current generations of researchers. Don was sincere in
his love for Kodiak, and he supported the Alutiiq Museum as a member, advocate, and mentor for our
staff. When he found out I was going for a doctorate he gave me a copy of his dissertation, and I’ll
treasure that hefty volume forever! Not just for his contributions to knowledge of our past, but
because it represents how he wanted me, and so many others, to succeed.”

Both museums will work with their boards to determine the best use of the funds. However, at
a time when collecting institutions across the nation have been hard hit by the Corona virus pandemic,
the gifts are a heartening reminder of interest and support for studying local history.
“History ties us together. Don recognized that and his final gifts to our museums will help to
ensure we can continue telling Kodiak’s stories, just as he would have wanted,” said Counceller.

Source: Two Kodiak Museums Receive Generous Bequests–February 3, 2021