Clarke Thomas was a man who cared deeply about Pittsburgh -- both its past and its future. For more than 30 years we bumped into each other at gatherings large and small that dealt with understanding the history or improving the life of the city. He played a major editorial role in the elaboration of my recently published history of Pittsburgh.
While Clarke was passionate and engaged about Pittsburgh, he was also concerned with the state of the world. He was a cosmopolitan who could talk with depth of understanding about Eastern Europe, Western Africa, Latin America -- the world. He deeply cared about working people and was keenly interested in the history and present condition of unions.
He wrote in recent years about the contribution of the United Steelworkers to the survival of American steel production and about the excellence of the construction trades' apprenticeship programs. He had a natural sympathy for minorities, women -- anyone generally excluded from the dealings and decisions of the powerful. His compassion, kindness and political insight will be sorely missed.
The writer is director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations and professor of industrial and labor relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.