John Reuben Clark was raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi, where he learned that he emphatically did not want to be a dairy farmer and gained lots of experience with cows that he uses in his famous witticisms and aphorisms today. His experiences picking thorny blackberries on fencerows in Mississippi did not dissuade him from majoring in Horticulture at Mississippi State, where he worked mostly on viticulture and enology. John started working at the University of Arkansas in 1980 as a graduate student and technician under Jim Moore, the founder of the Arkansas Fruit Breeding Program. After finishing his PhD, John worked as the resident director of the Arkansas Fruit Research Station from 1983-1994. He moved back to Fayetteville with his wife Sharon and his son Jonathan in 1994 and took on a faculty role and leadership of the Fruit Breeding Program when Dr. Moore retired. During his approximately 25-year tenure as a leader of the Fruit Breeding Program, John has worked tirelessly to build on Dr. Moore’s legacy and bring innovations like primocane-fruiting blackberries and unique flavored table grapes to the fruit industry. The Arkansas Fruit Breeding program has released 66 public varieties since 1964 and many other exciting products in collaboration with industry partners. John is also a talented musician and has composed several original guitar pieces to accompany Youtube videos about new fruit releases.
His generosity, enthusiasm, and good humor have made him an effective ambassador for our industry and a super fun colleague and mentor. We will all miss having John around every day at UADA when he retires, but we’re sure that he’ll continue to be a big supporter and friend to the University and the fruit industry for many years to come! Please join us on October 27 to celebrate a remarkable career and a hell of a guy!