Ki­plinger’s re­mem­bers a skilled col­league

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - THE DISTRICT BY PE­TER HER­MANN pe­ter.her­mann@wash­post.com

Her task was to write about the mun­dane stuff of per­sonal fi­nance and re­tire­ment plan­ning. Some of Jane Ben­nett Clark’s most re­cent clips for Ki­plinger’s mag­a­zine in­clude “6 Steps to Re­tire When You Want” and “Savers Get a Break on IRA Rollovers.”

But Clark, who was fa­tally struck by a bi­cy­clist Thurs­day evening after leav­ing her down­town Wash­ing­ton of­fice near Franklin Square, had a knack for get­ting the hu­man side in even the most mo­not­o­nous sub­jects.

“She was known for very provoca­tive and nu­anced fea­tures on the softer side of per­sonal fi­nance,” said Knight A. Ki­plinger, the pres­i­dent of Ki­plinger’s fi­nan­cial me­dia com­pany. He re­called Clark’s “gen­tle­ness and thought­ful­ness” as the mag­a­zine’s se­nior edi­tor.

“What we write about is pretty com­pli­cated and not al­ways so ex­cit­ing,” said San­dra Block, a se­nior as­so­ciate edi­tor. “She had a way of bring­ing it all to life.” The mag­a­zine’s edi­tor, Janet Bod­nar, called Clark a “beau­ti­ful word­smith.”

The in­ci­dent oc­curred a few min­utes after Clark had left Ki­plinger’s of­fice in the 1100 block of 13th Street NW, about 6:30 p.m. The ed­i­tors had just com­pleted work on some of the next edi­tion’s fi­nal sto­ries, in­clud­ing two that will carry Clark’s by­line.

Col­leagues said Clark, 65, typ­i­cally walked south on 13th to Metro Cen­ter to catch a Red Line train to her home in Takoma Park, Md. D.C. po­lice said she had just stepped off a curb and into a cross­walk when she was struck by a bi­cy­clist rid­ing south on 13th.

Po­lice have not said whether the bi­cy­clist went through a red light or if Clark stepped into the street against a pedes­trian sig­nal. Po­lice said the cy­clist re­mained at the scene and no charges have been filed pend­ing the con­clu­sion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Clark was taken to MedS­tar Wash­ing­ton Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter with a head in­jury. She died Fri­day. Her rel­a­tives did not wish to dis­cuss the in­ci­dent. Her bosses said that she had three grown chil­dren and one grand­child, and that one of her daugh­ters is get­ting mar­ried next month.

Those who worked with Clark, some dat­ing from 1977 when she first started at Ki­plinger’s, praised her abil­ity to both get per­sonal in­for­ma­tion from peo­ple, and then weave their sto­ries into what one of her ed­i­tors de­scribed as “beau­ti­ful prose.”

Clark, who was born into a jour­nal­ism fam­ily, left Ki­plinger’s for a few years in the 1980s to raise her fam­ily and then re­turned.

She wrote for nearly ev­ery part of the mag­a­zine, which is pop­u­lar for its fi­nan­cial ad­vice. She also wrote and then later over­saw pub­li­ca­tion of a rating sys­tems for uni­ver­si­ties, a time­con­sum­ing project.

If Clark wasn’t writ­ing, she was cook­ing, those who knew her said, and years ago Kevin McCor­mally, the se­nior vice pres­i­dent for Ki­plinger Wash­ing­ton Ed­i­tors, jok­ingly said she “pulled off the big­gest boon­dog­gle in Ki­plinger his­tory, con­vinc­ing us to send her to Tus­cany for cook­ing school, and to write a story.”

She re­turned with a story, and a new love, and her staff and fam­ily ben­e­fited for years to come. Her col­leagues re­call her com­plex cakes; she even made a daugh­ter’s wed­ding cake.

Last year, Clark wrote and co-wrote sto­ries for an award­win­ning se­ries on women and money. One of her as­sign­ments was mak­ing fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions after the sud­den, un­ex­pected death of a loved one. She in­ter­viewed a woman whose hus­band had just died climb­ing a moun­tain.

“She told the mun­dane fi­nan­cial de­tails that peo­ple needed to know through the eyes of this woman’s ex­pe­ri­ence,” Bod­nar said. “When I edited the story, I started to cry. How of­ten do you cry read­ing a per­sonal fi­nance story?”

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