By Tara Kirkpatrick –
If there is one common link between John P. Lewis and Gary Clark – two well-respected professionals in the Tucson community – it’s the Boy Scouts of America and how the venerable organization shaped these two men into the leaders they are today.
Lewis, president of Commerce Bank of Arizona, and Gary Clark, VP of the Southern Arizona Division of Southwest Gas Corporation, are the recipients of the 2014 Good Scout Awards, presented at a luncheon by the construction industry, the proceeds of which will support the activities of more than 7,000 Scouts regionally.
“John Lewis and Gary Clark exemplify what Scouts can achieve in their careers,” said Tom Kittle, GM of Kittle Design and Construction and chairman of the award selection committee. “For John and Gary, business has always been a way to help not only customers, but also our community. These Eagle Scouts have never forgotten their commitment to be outstanding individuals and citizens.”
John P. Lewis
Born and raised in Tucson, John P. Lewis joined the Scouts in the third grade, when a local representative began recruiting at a PTA meeting at University Heights Elementary School.
“It was an opportunity the school made possible,” Lewis recalled. “Otherwise, I don’t know that I would have been introduced into Scouting. But what I did find was the regularity of the meetings, getting to know other boys who had common desires to get involved in Scouting, and the discipline that comes with the organization.”
Lewis moved through the different levels, remembering many action-packed, challenging summers at Camp Lawton atop Mount Lemmon. He would go on to earn his Eagle Scout Award in 1960 at age 14.
“I think what I learned from my time in the Boy Scouts as a young man was the importance of family, faith and a strong work ethic. The Boy Scouts practiced all of those disciplines. I think a lot of it carried over into my behavior at home and in the classroom. I never gave my parents any trouble. I was too busy being busy.”
Scouting experience had a lifelong impact on Lewis. On May 2 Lewis will receive the 2014 Good Scouts Award at the annual fundraising luncheon presented by the construction industry.
From University Heights Lewis went on to Mansfeld Junior High and Tucson High, then graduated from The University of Arizona. Lewis attended the University of Washington’s Pacific Coast Graduate Banking School, an intensive three-year program which prepares bankers for senior levels of management.
When he applied for a job at the Southern Arizona Bank & Trust Company, the president offered him one as a messenger. “It was a very humbling experience – but I tackled that job as if it was going to be the only job I was ever going to have. It was a beginning, because it allowed me to walk in the shoes of the tellers, loan officers and as they say, ‘on up the corporate ladder.’ ”
From Southern Arizona Bank & Trust, which would eventually become First Interstate Bank of Arizona, then Wells Fargo Bank, Lewis left to start Southern Arizona Community Bank in 1997, serving as president until 2010 when his bank merged with Bank of Tucson. He stayed on as vice chairman to ensure a smooth transition in the merger and then retired in April 2012. Lewis worked for the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces division for nine months until the banking community summoned once again.
The owners of Commerce Bank of Arizona, which specializes in small business banking, appointed Lewis as their new president of Southern Arizona operations last October.
Lewis’ proudest professional achievement was being named in 2008 to the Inaugural Presidential Advisory Committee of the FDIC, a panel of 13 bank presidents chosen from over 800 applicants to advise and strategize on the country’s recession and its impact on the financial industry. The meetings every quarter were in Washington D.C. at FDIC headquarters.
“It was the pinnacle of my banking career,” he said. “I honestly can say the Boy Scouts prepared me for this assignment.”
Gary Clark, president of the Boy Scouts of America’s Catalina Council, began his career in Scouting as an active boy growing up in Idaho.
“When I was 12, I had a good friend and we ran around on our bikes. We did everything together.” One day, Clark found himself making tin-foil dinners over an open fire pit in his friend’s yard.
“My friend’s dad came out and introduced himself as a Scout leader and told us we had just completed the culinary requirement of the Tenderfoot badge in Scouting.” From that moment on “I was hooked,” he recalled.
Clark began to pursue more badges with ferocity, loving the challenge that accompanied each one. Attending camp and special honors programs such as the Order of the Arrow, he earned his Eagle Scout Award as a teen before pursuing engineering at Brigham Young University.
“I think part of my decision to go into engineering was partly due to the merit badges and the Scouting experience – the drafting, electrical and home repair badges gave me the hands-on skills and helped me decide that engineering was a good field for me.”
For his long commitment to and leadership of the Boy Scouts Clark will receive the Lifetime Honoree Award at The Construction Industry’s Good Scout Awards luncheon on May 2.
After college, Clark interviewed with Southwest Gas and was hired as an engineer. He’s worked at the utility for 36 years, in Carson City, Las Vegas and Tucson. Today Clark is VP of the Southern Arizona Division.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with builders, home and commercial, all the various trades, serving new subdivisions and communities establishment with Southwest Gas,” he said. “It has been a great partnership – as was Scouting.”
When in Nevada, Clark began working as a Scout leader and has since become one the organization’s most ardent volunteers. He recently attended an adult leadership retreat at Camp Lawton in the Santa Catalina Mountains, where he and other adult Scouts not only camped, cooked and attended classes, but also set personal goals for pursuing excellence in the next year.
“I’ve been involved in Scouting my whole adult life,” Clark said. “Scouting helps a boy become a man – and allows a man to be a boy.”
The Construction Industry’s Good Scout Award Luncheon
Friday, May 2
Holiday Inn Palo Verde
$95 per person
$850 for table of 10
Other sponsor levels available
Registration – 11:30 a.m.
Luncheon – 12 -1:30 p.m.
or call Kim Brown at 750-0385