Polymer Pioneer Clark Dies

Ronald C. Clark, a co-founder of Lewis & Clark Ventures LLC and former president of the Ohio Polymer Enterprise Development Corp. (OPED), died Feb. 9 of an apparent heart attack while on a business trip. He was 55.

Clark was working with Robert Acri, a principal of Kenilworth Asset Management LLC, to raise more than $100 million for Midwest startups. Acri told the Akron Beacon Journal that the fund will continue in Clark’s absence.

Clark, a polymer scientist, helped link polymer entrepreneurs with investors in his prior role at OPED, a group founded by the University of Akron. The goal was to help create new polymer companies and jobs in the Ohio and the Midwest, a region nicknamed “Polymer Valley.”

“The polymer industry in Ohio lost a real champion,” says Robert A. Handelman, president of Chemstress Consulting Co., an Akron, Ohio-based company, and a former chairman of OPED.

A tough economy, however, made it difficult for OPED. Last year, Ohio cut funding to the group, and that’s when Clark left to form Lewis & Clark Ventures.

Clark was known as a maverick who cut through bureaucracies to help make deals happen. The description of maverick was an apt one for Clark, who donned loud ties, wore turquoise jewelry and sported a big mustache. His distant ancestor was 19th-century explorer William Clark.

After earning a doctorate in polymer science from the University of Akron in 1976, Clark worked as a research scientist for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. before subsequently going out on his own.

Clark is survived by his wife Rebecca Martin, and four children.