CGP Community Stories

Edward W. Stack, November 25, 2011

Title

Edward W. Stack, November 25, 2011

Subject

Not-for-profit organizations
Cooperstown (N.Y.)
Clark Foundation (Cooperstown, N.Y.)
Pace University
Administration
Baseball
New York State Historical Association

Description

Edward W. Stack served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Clark Estates and the Clark Foundation based in New York City, as well as the Chairman and Director of the Baseball Hall of Fame and President of the Leatherstocking Corporation, both in Cooperstown, NY. He was born in 1935 and lived on Long Island throughout his childhood. Graduating from Pace University in 1956, he was hired by the Clark Family to work in their accounting department and began his relationship with the family two days after graduating.
Mr. Stack’s career with the Clark Family brought him from the position of corporate cashier to Chief Operating Officer, a position he held until his retirement on his 65th birthday, February 1, 2000. Working for the Clark Foundation, he helped establish the Clark Foundation Scholarship Program, awarding scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Cooperstown and surrounding towns. Mr. Stack also served as an officer of the Baseball Hall of Fame, eventually serving as the Director of the institution until he retired.
Throughout the interview, Mr. Stack discusses his time with the Clark Estates and the Clark Foundation, the Leatherstocking Corporation, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and various positions he has held with other regional not-for-profits. He describes how he began to work for the Clark family and some of the work he did while working with the family, as well as their various organizations and the impact of some of these programs.

Creator

Nicholas DeMarco

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York - College at Oneonta

Date

2011-11-25

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
27.5 mb
audio/mpeg
27.5 mb
audio/mpeg
27.5 mb
audio/mpeg
6.6 mb
images/jpeg
2.6 mb

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

11-072

Coverage

Cooperstown, New York
New York City, NY
1935-2011

Online Submission

No

Interviewer

Nicholas DeMarco

Interviewee

Edward W. Stack

Location

Otesaga Hotel
60 Lake St.
Cooperstown, NY 13226

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Oral History Project Fall 2011

ES = Edward W. Stack
ND = Nicholas J. DeMarco


[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]


ND:
This is the November 25, 2011 interview of Edward W. Stack by Nicholas DeMarco for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork Course recorded at the Otesaga Hotel. What first interested you in the not-for-profit sector?

ES:
I became interested in the not-for-profits because of my work with the Clark family. I have been employed by the Clark family since two days out of college. I graduated on a Friday, and I started to work for them on a Monday morning, bypassing really my plan to go to graduate school and to either major in law or – I had an interest in hospital administration or education administration. I was approached by the Clark family and it seemed very interesting work that they were doing out of their family office in New York City. A lot of it dovetailed with the legal profession, hospital administration, and education and I thought why don’t I try it and see what comes out of it, it might be a good experience. Fifty-five years later I’m still involved with the family, not on the day-to-day basis, but I am still on all the family boards and still very much involved with the family so it has been a wonderful career path. So much of the work with the Clark family has been with not-for-profits, the institutions in Cooperstown, the three museums, the medical center, Bassett Medical Center and all of their affiliate work, the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home, it goes on and on. That’s how I got involved with not-for-profits.

ND:
What were some of the various responsibilities you had in both, I know you were associated with both the Clark Estates and the Clark Foundation? What were the different responsibilities you had with both and did they overlap at times?

ES:
The Clark family office has always been in New York City in Manhattan. The office employs about 30 to 35 people and out of the office all of the financial services for the family are handled. Real estate, insurance, all kinds of business affairs, everything is done out of the office in New York. I was hired by Stephen Carlton Clark, Sr. June 18, 1956. My first job was basically, the best way to describe it was a payroll clerk and I handled the payroll for a good many of the Clark family interests, their personal employees, all of the members of the family, and back in those days, Bassett. The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital over the years has employed as full time employees the professional staff – the doctors. Back in those days the hospital was small and I handled the payroll for the professional staff at Bassett out of New York City, which was considered a confidential payroll. The work of the Clark Estates was all of what I have just mentioned; the Clark Foundation was the Clark family charitable foundation. They’re a major charitable foundation and in subsequent years smaller foundations were set up by members of the family which were run out of the office. The Clark Foundation was run out of the office as well as the Scriven Foundation, which was a smaller family foundation. Both of those foundations went back to the early 1930s when they were established by members of the family. Foundation work was all handled out of the Clark Estates office. A lot of my work over the years was in the foundation work. I ended up as the executive director of the foundations and it really was a part of my work that I did enjoyed a lot because I came into contact with so many different people from different areas with interests, whether it was education, medical, performing arts, or historical. All of that was managed out of the Clark Estates office and the Clark Estates was not a profit making business. We basically charged a fee to all of our accounts, members of the family, the foundations, the institutions we had a big hand in running, and that fee was based on the size of the endowment of those institutions or members of the family. We just really charged off all of our expenses of running the office, so the Clark Foundation, Scriven Foundation, did not have a salaried staff that were paid by the foundations. The staff members were paid employees of the Clark Estates.

ND:
You began with the Clark Estates and you worked your way up. How did you progress through the ranks right after college? Where did you go starting with the salaries?

ES:
Basically I was in the accounting department of the family office for about five years. I was deeply involved in the accounting end of the business. I mentioned doing the payroll is where I got started and eventually within a couple of years I became the corporate cashier. I handled all of the cash and the books of account for all of the members of the family, 70-75 trusts, and all of the institutions. My title was corporate cashier. Since the Clark Estates organization was top heavy in older people is the best way to put it – the next in age to me as a 21-year-old joining the organization was someone who was in his early 30s, and beyond that it really jumped quite rapidly. I was asked if I had any interest in working in the administration part of the office and naturally I did have an interest. Fortunately I was quickly brought into the middle of the management of the office, in Cooperstown interests, and learned quickly and was able to advance quickly with the rest of my career. I eventually became president of the Clark Estates, Chief Operating Officer – a position I held for a considerable amount of time until I retired. I retired on my birthday, February 1, 2000. It was my 65th birthday because at that point I felt that if I didn’t make a decision to retire at sometime I would never retire. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing; one day to a senior member of the family, who happened at that point to be Jane Forbes Clark, I asked what would you think if I retired on my birthday next year. That threw her for a loop but I think it was a good decision for me and a good decision for her, because when I did retire she became more active and really assumed a lot of the work I was doing as president of the Clark Estates. She was chairman of the Clark Estates. Ten years before I retired I had picked a person to head up our investment department on the financial end of the business and he really worked out well. We all had an eye on him becoming my successor, so he moved right into the job. His name is Kevin Moore and he holds that title to this date.

ND:
You have said in some interviews in the past what drew you to the Clark Foundation – and you said it this time as well -- was its interests in hospitals and law. What ignited your interests in those areas in general?

ES:
I think my interest in those areas were from the day I was born. I was really ambitious, I was business oriented. From the time I could assume the responsibility I delivered newspapers. I just didn’t have a small route in one part of town, I had the whole town as my route. I would go back in the afternoon and cut grass for old ladies and wash their windows, pick up deposit bottles with my wagon and collect deposits on bottles that they’d saved for me. I was very active in every aspect of my church and youth group and everything else you could think of in the community. I was very active as a young person and so my orientation, my interests were really in business if you want to call it that, and my interest in law or hospital administration or education administration just flowed from that interest in business and I really can’t put my finger on any other explanation of why I thought that was what I would do for graduate school. I was president of my student council in college, very active in all aspects of college life, extracurricular. I probably spent more time on that than I did on my studies. Even though I did do well in college academically, I could have done better if I wasn’t involved in everything under the sun at the same time. I did graduate and at graduation I got the highest honor at graduation, the trustees gold medal award which was an all rounded kind of award – academics and everything else that goes with it. That’s where my interest was. I could not afford to go away to college. I went to Pace University in Manhattan. I commuted from my home on Long Island on the Long Island Railroad for 4 years. I worked after school, worked weekends, worked summers. I look back on it and I wonder how I ever did it but I did it. I didn’t go away to college because I couldn’t put together enough money in scholarship support and aid. My father was a union carpenter, and I was the oldest of four. Looking back I have no regrets. I got a good education, I worked hard for it and it worked out. Fortunately the Clark family came along and I was able to move on with my career path.

ND:
You had mentioned that the Clark family; you were right out of college and they found you. I have read something that said that someone may have suggested you to them. How did they find you?

ES:
The Clark family found me I was president of the student council at college. I had a small office the size of a janitor’s closet but it had a desk, a telephone and whatever else. Down the hall from this little office was the college placement office. The man who ran that office, Bob Lauder, was a retired businessman who when he retired decided he wanted to keep working and do something different and he became the placement director at Pace. I got to know him well, mainly because being the president of student council I guess, and I was in my office one day and he came in and said he had a fellow down in his office looking for a senior coming out of school to work in their accounting department. I was an accounting major, that was my major in college, and he said I think I know what you are planning to do but I think you should come down and talk to him; it is a very interesting story and you might have an interest in all of it. I did go down and talk to a fellow from the Clark Estates who really ran the accounting department. He was a wonderful gentleman, the kind of person you would instantly fall in love with. He told me the story of the office and what it was all about and the history of the Clark family. How they were rooted in New York City, Manhattan, how they were heavy in real estate, heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune, the Cooperstown connection - museums, medical center, and everything that went along with it. It sounded very interesting and he invited me if I had an interest - and I did - pursue it, and he invited me to come down to the Clark Estates office to continue to talk, and I did. They interviewed a couple other seniors at Pace and then they offered me the job. Interestingly, most of the students going out of school in 1956 were making $3600 a year, that was sort of the magic number. They offered me $4800, which was a lot of money back in those days. When I told my classmates about it they couldn’t believe it, it was so much more than students were getting going out of school. I did take the job and was off and running from that point.

ND:
One of things I know you had set up in Cooperstown was the Leatherstocking Scholarships. Can you elaborate on how you set them up?

ES:
This scholarship program was the Clark Foundation and the Scriven Foundation scholarships. It all started in the early 1960s and it was pretty soon after I got involved with administration work and responsibilities at the Clark Estates. In the foundation we were giving a few scholarships - and I mean a few, 2 or 3 - and they were going to doctors’ children, at Bassett. We were getting fairly close to the end of the fiscal year for the two foundations and we had more money to give away as I remember it, and I suggested why don’t we give more scholarships. The senior members of the family thought that was a good idea so I remember taking an Esso road map and opening it up and putting it on our boardroom table at the office and then continuing a discussion about doing a program, a formal scholarship program, because what we were doing with 2 or 3 scholarships was not formal by any means. The view was we would give them to the Cooperstown school, college scholarships to graduating seniors, but can we go beyond there” I remember taking the Esso road map that was laid out on the table and pinpointing the schools in the area that I could remember – Schenevus, Worcester, Milford, Laurens, and West Winfield to the west, Richfield Springs, Cherry Valley, Springfield - and we came up as a possibility in our area 12 schools, not getting into Oneonta because it was a city, and restricting it as much as possible. We came up with twelve schools. That was the birth and the beginning of the Clark Foundation scholarship program as we know it today because along the way we merged the Scriven Foundation program into the Clark Foundation program and ended up with one program, the Clark Foundation Scholarship Program, for all twelve schools. It has grown over the years. Today, we are giving away a few million dollars a year and we got a thousand students a year. It’s just been a huge success. Back in the early days before the program got too big I ran it out of the Clark Estates office in Manhattan with just my secretary and me really running the program, administering it, and I would come to Cooperstown in the summer because I was here all summer basically and I would go out and interview all the students in the summer. I would interview them at their individual schools. I would go to Worchester or Schenevus or Laurens or wherever and then spend a day at each of the schools. The appointments were made and the students would come in and I would spend a half an hour with each one interviewing. The program continued to grow and the handwriting was on the wall that I couldn’t continue to do that with all of my other responsibilities. I was working eight days a week and there is a limit. We had a school superintendent in Cooperstown by the name of Nicholas Sterling who was getting ready to retire, at least we thought he was getting ready to retire, and I approached him to see if he, in retirement, would want to become the director of the scholarship program. He did have an interest and wanted to do it, so we hired him to direct the program. It got the monkey off my back, even though I did work with him hand in hand for a number of years. I stayed deeply involved in it. We eventually pretty soon set up the scholarship office on Route 28 as we know it today. That was part of the Clark farm. That stone building where the scholarship program is based was the retail meat market for the Iroquois farm, the F. Ambrose Clark farm. Ambrose Clark had died in 1964 so the building was vacant and available. I suggested to Stephen Clark, Jr - who was a key member of the family at that point - what if we move the scholarship program into that building, which was perfect because it was on the outskirts of town. Students didn’t have to come into the center of Cooperstown to be interviewed. It was very accessible. As the program continued to grow we put an addition on the building in the back to add a second level to accommodate additional staff. It really has worked well over the years. Nick Sterling retired eventually and we brought on to understudy him before he retired Jim Robinson, who was superintendent of schools at that time. He had succeeded Nick Sterling as the superintendent and he was getting ready to retire so we went through the same process. We brought him on as the assistant director and then when Nick retired Jim became the director. We knew he would not be with that forever so we then subsequently hired Paul Lambert, who was superintendent of schools at that point, and brought him in as the assistant to Jim Robinson. Jim passed away so then Paul took over as director. When Paul retired, we again hired an educator to be director of the program. The present director is Peter Severin who had a career as a teacher in the Cooperstown Central School. He is presently the director of the program. All goes well with the program. It has been a fantastic program. I still bump into people locally who introduce themselves and they are retirement age and they were what I would call one of my scholarship students early on. The program has really gone full cycle over the years. A key player in the program early on was Dr. Henry Allan Moe. Dr. Moe was a lawyer by background who befriended the Guggenheim family in Manhattan. One of the Guggenheim’s asked him to set up a foundation many years ago, and he set up the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a very well known foundation that underwrites scholarly endeavors. Dr. Moe was a friend of Stephen Clark Sr. and the feeling of the Clark family was that I needed some help early on in the foundation business and Dr. Moe was getting ready to retire from Guggenheim. He had set up the Guggenheim foundation and set up a retirement plan where [START OF TRACK 2, 0:00] mandatory retirement was 70 years of age and he was 69 years of age and was getting caught in his own web that he was going to have to retire, which he did not want to do but he was stuck. We gave him an office at the Clark Estates, and he was brought in essentially to help me learn the foundation business and educate me that way and also to be useful in helping with Cooperstown institutions, primarily the New York State Historical Association and Bassett Healthcare, the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, and he became board chairman of both of those organizations, in addition to doing some of the foundation work and scholarship work for a period of time until he died.

ND:
When you first started were you the only person who did the interviews or were there other people that also conducted the interviews when you first started?

ES:
Not really. I did them alone and then when Dr. Moe came on board the two of us would do the interviews. For a good many years he was attached to my hip so to speak. I did 100% of the legwork and we would do the interviews together. He would for the most part do most of the write-ups from the interviews. We kept very formal and accurate records of all of the scholars, but it was really either me solo or the two of us for I can’t tell you how many years, it escapes me. It worked out well.

ND:
Was there a certain kind of student you were looking for, certain requirements that would stand out to you?

ES:
When we set up the program we basically set it up that academics was important, you had to be in the top tier of your class, there had to be need. Back in those days the need part of it was pretty clear and got fuzzier later on because even though a person might, a parent might have or two parents might have good jobs, with the cost of higher education the need part of it always seemed to be there. There was no exact formula but the academics and the need were the most important factors in considering applications. The way we worked the application process is that we made available to the principals of each of the schools our application, and then they worked with the students and set the stage for them applying for the scholarships. When they got the packet of scholarship applications, they did their processing and write-ups on each of the students so we had good recommendations from the principal and guidance director on each one of the applicants. They ranked them and then we got the packets and then we went to work on them. They might be recommending 15 students for scholarships out of 25 applications. When we got them we might accept 12 of the 15 that they had recommended or we might recommend 18 more. It was custom made and there was real attention put to all of the applications from A to Z, then we came up with the final recommendations. Those recommendations would then overall be presented to the foundation board, and the board received that thick, a lot reading. Usually at our March/April meeting the foundation board would act on the applications. The board did have a hands-on responsibility; it wasn’t just a rubber stamp.

ND:
When you had the other office set up, you were still active with the scholarships then with the board at that point as well?


ES:
It depends. As far as my continuing to do interviewing and the day-to-day kind of attention to it, that died out somewhere along the line, I can’t even tell you what year. But I had overall responsibility for the program because I was the foundation secretary and had responsibility for the overall running of the foundation. I guess my last title was vice president of the foundation in later years. I always had hands-on responsibility, so to speak, and a real interest in it because really it was my baby early on. Earlier this year was the fiftieth anniversary of the scholarship program, at our foundation board meeting they presented me with a wrapped gift with a big ribbon on it and all that and I opened it and what it was was a framed Esso road map with an inscription underneath with the 50th anniversary and my part in starting it all. They found an old Esso roadmap and it had the date on it, back in those days they used to put a date on the road maps.

ND:
You had said that earlier in your career you hadn’t gone away to college or university because you had trouble with scholarships and grants. Did that kind of influence you with these programs? Did that kind of drive you a little bit to start some scholarship programs?

ES:
It might have but I think everything fell into place. I remember it seemed to be the thing to do.

ND:
Were there any other scholarships you helped to establish besides that program? Were there other programs?

ES:
No, that was it, that program. Although the Clark Foundation has over the years traditionally, not so much in recent years, but early on we did support a lot of colleges and universities and put money into their scholarship programs. It’s an ongoing work of the foundation.

ND:
Is it associated with the Clark Fellowship Program? Is that another program?

ES:
That was another program really out of New York City. The Clark Foundation, outside of their interests in Cooperstown - their principle interests in Cooperstown have been the institutions all of which were pretty much started by members of the Clark family – beyond Cooperstown, the Scriven Foundation, our smaller foundation, all of its grant making has to be within Otsego County. So the Scriven Foundation does smaller grants in Otsego County to support over and above the major institutions. The Clark Fellows Program was a program we had for a short period of time and really what we were doing was supporting through our work in Manhattan, New York City, reaching out for students who needed help to pursue work for the most part in the not-for-profit arena. They wanted to go to a qualified school, like the Columbia school for not-for-profit management, and be engaged with professional work with not-for-profits. We did that for a period of time, we are not doing it any longer, but it was an active program for a relatively short period of time.

ND:
So it wouldn’t directly affect Cooperstown. So you worked intimately with the Clark Family for a majority of your career. Can you elaborate on the experience of working with a family foundation or organization?

ES:
If I were to do it over, I wouldn’t change it at all. Fortunately, I had youth behind me, and when I started working for the family I can truthfully say that the older members seemed to embrace me because I was a young kid coming along. I’d almost say I was like another grandchild kind of a thing and I related real well with the older members of the family. But fortunately I also related to the younger members of the family because I was young. Very often I would find myself in the middle. If an older member of the family couldn’t talk to a younger member of the family I could become an intermediary in some respects so I had a nice relationship with the young and the old. I was fortunate to have that opportunity. What that brought to the table was all kinds of situations. Being a family office we handle everything pretty much for the members of the family. You name it and we probably did it. They needed something, you’re on the phone with them and then you had to deliver. That was the way it worked out over the years, and it was a very, very pleasant experience. It was almost like you are on call all the time 24 hours around the clock, seven days a week. Although they were very protective they could not have treated me better over the years. I must say it was very rewarding. On the other hand, I delivered. I worked hard. They were my responsibility, and I tried to deliver. Not that I didn’t get in trouble from time to time, but that’s nature. We both recovered. I guess the best way to put it is that I am really lucky to have had the kind of career I had. I am now in my 55th year with them and still on most of the family boards. For instance, Leatherstocking Corporation, which is a familiar name here in Cooperstown, I was president of Leatherstocking Corporation for a good many years. Leatherstocking Corporation owns the Otesaga Hotel, the Cooper Inn, the golf course, and certain other real estate properties and also has employees in what we call the service department, where we have laborers to take care of the properties, cut grass, maintain properties, and all that. One of my joys out of that was the Otesaga Hotel where we now sit. This was my baby over the years. The general manager reported to me. I had a key for the side door, and I would stay here in the winter and I would be the only one in the hotel, even though there was a watchman someplace I never saw him. I let myself in and double chained the door to the room that I used. One night I turned the television on and what was playing on television but The Shining. It was like I was in the middle of the movie and I will never forget it. We went through total renovation of these properties, the three properties that I spoke of, top to bottom, all new mechanicals, bathrooms, complete rehab of all properties, the golf course and the two hotels over a period of time. Thanksgiving weekend, Sunday, and the next day the workmen would be in here tearing apart what was going to be renovated over that particular winter and it was all done the day we opened, and that went on for many years until we got 100% finished and what have you. A lot history, a lot of stories, a lot of headaches, problems. Fenimore house, when we were receiving the Thaw American Indian collection, I was deeply involved with that. The agreement was to put an addition on Fenimore house to house the collection so we went through that program of selecting an architect. Three finalists, we ended up with three finalists and then we moved ahead with what we have there now which everyone I think is very proud of it. It really worked out well. Hugh Hardy was the architect and he also did the Glimmerglass opera house. We knew him well but he was one of three we picked, one of the two was I.M. Pei’s son who ended up with an addition which was too much glass, which was I.M. Pei’s fingerprint. I’m really glad it ended up the way it did, I think it works well. That was not only picking the architect but going through the whole building process which was a lot of nightmares. We got it accomplished. A lot of stories like that, you know.

ND:
How were you involved with the Thaw wing, the wing for the Thaw collection, and the Otesaga? Besides selecting the architect, did you help design? Did you say what you wanted? How involved were you?

ES:
This was staff, a lot of people were involved. When you get into building projects, what they want, what they see, everything that goes along with it, all falls into place. The architects will read you and if you’re lucky they will deliver what you want and not what they want. I guess it can backfire but I think we have been pretty much through the years with all our building projects at the Fenimore House, at The Farmers’ museum, at the Hall of Fame, where we have had many building programs over the years I think we’ve ended up okay on them. I don’t have any regrets about what we ended up with. We might end up with something that has to be changed down the pike but that is only because of program growth and changing times.

ND:
You found your experience with working for the Clark Foundation very similar to other not-for-profits, not to say the word challenging, but different or unique experiences? Are they kind of on the same level?

ES:
I think they are probably similar. They are business experiences. When you are running any organization, whether a business corporation or a not-for-profit, it’s running a business and I think everyone gets caught up in pretty much the same thing, even though in the not-for-profit world you’re answering to a board of directors or board of trustees and not shareholders. Not-for-profits usually don’t end up making money, they lose money or need to be funded. Business corporations make a profit and the stockholders share in it. Not-for-profits, their bottom line is always a loss or close to a loss and you’re out looking for funds all the time because your admissions in the case of museums are not going to cover all your expenses. You have to raise money on the outside, foundations, individuals. In the case of the medical centers, Bassett, which is huge now, I’ve been on that board 38 years now. I’ve seen it grow to a point now that we have 6 hospitals, 25 clinics in small towns, 18 school based heath centers right in the schools, it has really grown over the years. We’re now a medical school, even though over the years we would take in residents and we have been a teaching hospital we are now a full fledged, in the case of Bassett, medical school because we have the affiliation with Columbia Medical School where a medical student will go to Columbia for a year then come to Cooperstown for two years as part of their training and medical school experience. In the case of Bassett, early on, years ago, they never did any fundraising because the feeling was it was a Clark hospital and the Clarks will fund it. We got beyond that point because of the growth and changing society. We set up the Friends of Bassett, which is our fundraising arm and now we raise million of dollars a year through Friends of Bassett and we’re out looking for grants all the time, we have a lobbyist in Washington that lobbies for us to get government support. It’s a changing society.

ND:
You helped set up the Friends of Bassett? Did you help set that up or was that through the Clark Foundation?

ES:
It was through Bassett. I was on the board so I had a hand in it so to speak. I’ve been on the Friends of Bassett board, which is a separate board, for quite a few years. Another wonderful Cooperstown organization.

ND:
What are some of the difficulties of managing a multimillion-dollar foundation?

ES:
Well one of the difficulties is, I don’t want to even call it a difficulty, but one of the challenges really is spending your money, your grant making income in a reasonable way; that you don’t squander the money, that you invest it wisely in organizations you’re giving grants to. We support the New York State Historical Association with a major grant each year, The Farmers’ Museum likewise, and if that support did not come their way they’d be in jeopardy, but we feel that both of those institutions are important to the cultural life of Cooperstown and we feel that it is a good investment for us to continue supporting them. Any grant making that we make. I used to do it myself, run the foundation, it was me and my secretary basically, then I made the recommendation to the board; first, the senior member of the family, back for many of those years was Jane Clark’s father, and then ultimately to the board. You really have to believe in what you are investing in and you really have to understand where the organization is coming from that you’re giving money to. Are they managing their organization well? We really, over the years, have really dug in and helped organizations to do a better job in managing themselves. It’s not only writing a check but also being able to help them in other ways. Same thing with the scholarship program we talked about earlier. In many cases, the help that we gave the students and the guidance was even more important than the money we gave them. They couldn’t really get help by way of their parents or whatever but we were able to help them with whatever problems they were having or decisions they were trying to make when they couldn’t really get help. The hardest part is to spend your money wisely in the foundation, and I think we have had a good track record over the years. Not that we haven’t blown some but that’s the risk you take, and sometimes we have taken risks hoping the outcome would be better than it turned out to be and many times things didn’t work out well as we had hoped.

ND:
When selecting an organization to give to you, do you [START OF TRACK 3, 0:00]feel their mission is more important or is their organization, knowing they are an organized group or not for profit is more important, or is it knowing what they are trying to achieve?
ES:
I think you start with the mission. What’s their mission statement? That’s the starting point and then are they fulfilling their mission. A lot of people have a wonderful mission but they are way out of bounds on the way they are conducting their business. I think it’s important to analyze that part of it, and also what is the foundation’s interest; is it in education, is it whatever. There are some many different areas of interest in the not-for-profit world. At the moment and for quite a few years we really have not had any interest and have not helped the performing arts, where years ago we were a lot stronger in that area. Now, our performing arts is basically Glimmerglass Opera that we support in a big way. Nothing else as far as performing arts is concerned. We are very big in education, social welfare, employment initiatives in New York City; they’re the big ones. Education, social services.

ND:
Do you find that you were drawn, besides obviously your interest to hospitals, were you drawn to a specific group yourself personally, whether it be museums or a certain type of program that you may have found?

ES:
Not really, we have had our interest in Bassett here. In New York City, we have for several generations really, we have supported the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is probably the key orthopedic hospital in the world. We have been a key player there over the years. The research laboratory is the Clark Research Laboratory named after the Clark family. We have had other medical interests in New York over the years but not recently. Of recent date we have not, other than the Hospital for Special Surgery and Memorial Hospital, a cancer hospital, we support and have again for many, many years. That is actually something I set up where we make money available in the social services department at Memorial Hospital to assist social workers with small amounts of money they can give to a patient. You might have a patient coming in for day chemotherapy and they have to go home using three different networks of transportation. They can give them $25 to take a taxi home, things like that. You might have a young mother come in with an infant or a young child and they need money for whatever, we make this fund available to help social workers take care of the immediate needs of patients, that kind of thing. We have had other programs there but nothing of recent date. Years ago we had, in institutions like that nurses get burned out, and so we set up a program where nurses can have a sabbatical and be refreshed and get any help that they needed because of the nature of the work that they were doing. There was a lot of burn out.

ND:
Can you tell me a little about your involvement with the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home?

ES:
Just as a board member. I’ve been on that board many, many years and we’ve been through a lot of things. Are you familiar with the fire there years ago, have you heard about that or anything?

ND:
I did see a little about that, they had a fire.

ES:
What happened is that was the original Cooperstown hospital. It was called the Thanksgiving Hospital. There wasn’t any Bassett. This was back prior to the 1920s. It was the Thanksgiving Hospital. There were actually two buildings there. I forgot why the two buildings but there are two separate buildings that are connected kind of a thing. We needed to renovate, do a major renovation because the facility was old and we had to really bring it up to code and what have you. So we decided to do it. We got the census down, we kept rooms open and didn’t fill them and got the census down to, its 28 now, we got it down to 20 maybe or whatever it was. We moved the residents into to the hotel on the third floor and had to do a minor amount of work to accommodate them by way of Board of Health regulations. When they got off of the elevator there had to be a rail that they could hold on to, that kind of thing. So we got the renovation project done in about a year, I might be off a little on it, but a year or a little more than a year which was really a total redo of the physical plan, major, and we were ready to move the residents back in within a month, maybe less. It was practically finished, the work, and the renovated building caught fire in the middle of the night. A workman had left on a space heater or whatever and the thing exploded or whatever happened. The total facility was destroyed; I mean it burned all night long, all the next day. It was a total disaster. I got the call at 6:00 in the morning or whatever from Jane Clark. She was in Florida, at her home in Florida and she was on the way back up. We decided to have a board meeting on the phone later in the day, which we did. We made a statement to the press that we will rebuild. What you see over there now is the rebuilt Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home, not a renovated home but it’s a completely 100% new, which in some respects we ended up much better than the renovated because we were able to basically rebuild what was there before but were able to make certain better modifications, wider hallways, whatever. We are off and running and it’s an adult home really for 28 male and female residents. All beds are filled, a long waiting list, reasonably priced and a good place for people to live if you need that kind of care. It is not an assisted living facility but it comes pretty close to it if you need help bathing or certain assistance that is provided. I guess you might call it an elegant place to live.

ND:
You were the director and CEO of the Baseball Hall of Fame for quite some years and we had talked briefly before about some of the controversy. If you could elaborate a little bit more on about some of the controversial elements of being a director of a museum of that nature.

ES:
Well, it all started with me in about 1962. I became an officer of the Hall of Fame by way of the Clark family. The Clark family early on really didn’t have an interest in baseball. They weren’t avid baseball fans by any means, but the interest in the Hall of Fame came by way of bringing clean commerce to Cooperstown in the early days. Stephen Clark, Sr. set up the first baseball museum because, as the story went, baseball was invented and first played in Cooperstown by General Abner Doubleday, so there was that historical bent to the whole thing. Then Stephen Clark bought what was to be one of the first baseballs that was stored away in a trunk in Fly Creek and then set up the first national baseball museum in the village library building on Main Street upstairs. The village fathers let him use the space to set up the museum. Then he got into some squabbles with the village fathers and got fed up with it all and, well, “you keep your third floor room and I’m going to go across the street on property I own and I’m going to build a museum”. That was the beginning, the first structure that was built which is now part of the Baseball Hall of Fame Complex. That was off and running from there. The Clark Estates office from day one really was involved with the management of the Hall of Fame and the caretaking of it for Stephen Clark up until 1960 when he died. My involvement started in about 1962, I think it was ‘61 or ‘62, I became deeply involved with the management aspects of the baseball museum and the board of directors. My first title was secretary, corporate secretary, and eventually I became the chairman and president in 1977 and then served in both of those positions until I retired in the year 2000. I had a lot of responsibility over those years. The management of the annual induction ceremony and the annual major league baseball game at Doubleday Field, the logistics of all that stuff. Early on we had a small staff at the Hall of Fame so more work was done at the Clark Estates than should have been done, but then over the years the staff at the Hall of Fame increased as we grew, and got more involved in building programs, outreach, and everything that went along with it. We were able to back off on a lot of the day-to-day stuff we were doing that we shouldn’t have been doing. It was a pleasant experience for me because I was really very close to all of the baseball commissioners. I sat with them at the all-star game. The World Series games, I was part of their official party. I could walk into Yankee Stadium and they knew me. I could go through the executive office entrance and go down to the dressing room. People in baseball knew me because I was very front and center back in those days. Then controversy, there was always controversy surrounding the Hall of Fame. Members that were elected that people thought shouldn’t be elected and those who weren’t elected that people though should be elected. Campaigns for candidates, controversial experiences along the way. Pete Rose, keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. Nellie Fox, Chicago, who missed the election. You needed 75% of the vote and he got 74.7% or whatever it was and didn’t get the 75%. They counted the ballots, I was called for a ruling on it. Can we round it off? He has 74, almost. I said no, you need 75%. It’s just like you can’t be a little bit pregnant, you’re either pregnant or you’re not pregnant. The ground swelled, you know, it was like the world was coming to an end, in Chicago especially. There was one editorial that said if Ed Stack had booked a plane to Chicago it would automatically be erased from the computer, it was some words to that effect. I was, you know, don’t ever show your face here. Subsequently Nellie Fox was elected to the Hall of Fame in later years. I must say I had a lot of fun with all that stuff. I used to get upset early on when people criticized the Hall of Fame but I soon got over that because I said to myself, at least they’re talking about the Hall of Fame. Everyone’s talking about the Hall of Fame. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Even if it is bad you’re out in the middle of the limelight. As I said I soon got over it. Bring it on, we will deal with it.

ND:
You also oversaw a large renovation of the building and a lot of the interactives that were added while you were there. How involved were you with that process?

ES:
I was deeply involved. We had many building programs, at least 3 or 4 and all of those programs we had to raise money. You can borrow money, but I was against borrowing a lot of money. If we are going to do a program let’s try to raise money and pay for it ahead of time or at least see the light at the end of tunnel where we could pay off the indebtedness real quick. Didn’t want any long-term mortgages or anything like that. I must say that worked out really well over the years because I had some people I could go to where I think I had inordinate luck in being able to extract money from them. In one instance it was the Yawkey family in Boston. Tom Yawkey early on was on our board of directors. That was before I came into the picture. He funded the first base grandstand seats at Doubleday Field when we needed them back in those days; he paid for them and got it done. Then he died and eventually we brought Mrs. Yawkey, Jean Yawkey, onto the board. They had no children, the Yawkey family, but they had family foundations and Mrs. Yawkey was on our board and I got along real well with her. We, I guess, hit it off. We would do a building program, we need two and half million dollars, I’d go to Mrs. Yawkey, tell her I needed two and half million dollars. She said well, I’ll give it to you. I don’t want you to give it all. I want you to, and this is one case, there are a lot of different cases but this is one case. I don’t want you to give all of it, what I want you to do is give me a matching grant. You give me a million and a quarter, but we have to raise the other million and a quarter. Whatever you want, you go ahead, you have the million and a quarter. I would go to John Fetzer, who again was a childless owner of the Detroit Tigers, a wonderful man, not on our board but I knew him. I didn’t consider him a close friend my any means but I went to Mr. Fetzer and told him Mrs. Yawkey had done this match and got him to put up the full million and a quarter, I’ll give you the million and a quarter. I had the full two and a half million dollars but then I had Mrs. Yawkey over on the side that I could go back to her in the future, we are going to do another program or whatever. I had other benefactors like that, and the other benefactors were, for the most part, mostly team owners and I was able to get quite a bit of money over the years, different team owners, including George Steinbrenner, who was on our board. He, over the years, invested a lot of money into the Hall of Fame and made a number of good-sized grants out of the New York Yankee Foundation. He was very, very much interested in the Hall of Fame and became a close friend of Jane Clark who eventually became the chairman of the Hall of Fame when I retired and the two of them were close friends, which helped that relationship with the Hall of Fame. The friendship developed out of the horse world because Jane Clark, being deeply involved in show horses and the horse world and Steinbrenner being in that business also, the horse business.

ND:
One of the programs you mentioned you help set up in the Hall of Fame was the oral history Program. How did you go about establishing that?

ES:
I think the oral history program early on was that we woke up one morning and said to ourselves - this wasn’t just me, but it was staff - we have these Hall of Famers who were getting along in advanced age and unless we got to them quickly and interviewed them and got a lot of information on tape it was going to be lost forever. No one was really out there doing this except reporters that would interview them for an article or this type of thing, but I was talking about an intense interview where you would spend a couple days with a person. We got started with one staff member at the Hall of Fame, a tape recorder, and sending him off. Not only one staff member but we hired someone on the outside to do it also so there were a couple of people that were engaged to do that over the years, so we were able to capture on tape a lot of good history from players who are now deceased. We continue to do that as a regular program. Fay Vincent, the retired baseball commissioner, had a keen interest in this area, and he has helped the Hall of Fame over the years to fund this project, the oral history project as we call it.

ND:
A lot of people give you a lot credit for helping out Cooperstown. What do you consider one of your greatest achievements for the town through the work that you’ve done?

ES:
Greatest achievement? I don’t have any greatest achievement. I think my greatest achievement is to be able to have the good fortune to be able to work for a wonderful family, a philanthropic family, a caring family, and to able to nurture Cooperstown institutions over the years to help them move forward to be what they are today. I think a part of it is I like people, I like working with people. I get my greatest satisfaction out of helping people. If there is a need to reach out, to try to help them. If there is a dishwasher at the Otesaga and I hear that there is a problem, family or this or that, I’ll go into the kitchen and talk to him and see how I can help. I think the greatest satisfaction I’ve gotten out of everything is being able to work with wonderful people.

ND:
You’re still involved with numerous organizations in Cooperstown and outside of the area.

ES:
Too many.

ND:
[laughs]. Yes, a long list.

ES:
As you can see.

ND:
How do you determine what organizations to work with? Is there a certain thing that brought you to some these groups? The foundation or on your own?

ES:
It’s all bottom-line helping people. I helped to start a Habitat of Humanity affiliate in Nassau County where I live on Long Island. A number of years ago we didn’t have one in Nassau County. We had one in Suffolk County and New York City but nothing in Nassau County in the middle of the island. I helped and spent a lot of time on it, got one going and it’s been quite successful. I’m no longer involved with it because there is a limit to how many organizations you can really spend time with. All of my interests are really people, help people organizations. The Salvation Army, at a dinner they gave me a lifetime achievement award for 45 years of being on the board and different Salvation Army boards and one thing or another. If you look at the list they are all people-oriented (organizations) so to speak. Too many of them but it keeps my brain lubricated.

ND:
A question outside of the not-for-profit world. You were married in 1967. How did you meet your wife? Was she from this area or Long Island?

ES:
I met my wife upstairs in the dining room at the Otesaga Hotel. [START OF TRACK 4, 00]

ND:
Really?

ES:
I lived in the hotel here. I wasn’t married, so I lived here in the summer really. She was a college student at the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg [Virginia]. She had a first cousin who lived in Cooperstown who was married to a resident doctor at Bassett. Her cousin convinced her to come to Cooperstown to get a job for the summer, so she got a job here at the hotel as a waitress. She was my breakfast waitress. At breakfast, the dining room opened at 7:30 in the morning, at 7:00 I had breakfast and ran off to work. She was my breakfast waitress for two summers. At the end of the second summer I said what are you going to do; you’re graduating this year and what are you going to do? She said she thought she would maybe go to Columbia School of Journalism or whatever. She was an English major at William and Mary. I said if you get to New York, my office is in New York, if I can help. I gave her my business card. So that set the stage; that was the end of it. She was a nice girl; if I can help you give me a call. That was the beginning of it all. She got to New York, didn’t go to Columbia but got a job at Harcourt Brace as it was called back in those days, publisher, a publishing company. She gave me a call, some flimsy excuse to call me, and that was the beginning of it all. I must say I was lucky and it really worked out well. I met her upstairs.

ND:
This is a good place to stay. Some of your family stayed in the area all around. Well, is there anything else you’d like to add at all to the interview, is there anything you’d like to talk about?

ES:
No. I’ll mention this physical disability. I had polio when I was 14 and I was in the hospital for a year and they said I’d never walk again. I had a bad case of it, both legs, stomach, whatever. I was in rehab for a year. I proved them wrong and I ended up after a year I walked out of the hospital when they said I’d never walk again. And then recuperated to the point where when I was in the hospital I studied and I didn’t miss a year in high school. I went right on with my class. I got sick in the beginning of September so I missed my freshman year but I came back and then joined the sophomore year and moved right along so that worked out well. I recuperated to the point where I had a very active career, all over the world, running up and down subway steps, I could walk miles at a clip and this and that. About 10 years ago, I ended up with post polio syndrome. What it is that the motor neurons, whatever they are, slow down with the aging process and don’t regenerate as fast, and coupled with the old polio the two of them coming together, it is just all downhill. I can walk, I use a walker. Around the house I use a cane. I have hand control on the car that I use for braking but I use my one foot for accelerating. I have chairlifts. We have a big home on Long Island and a couple staircases I use chairlifts. I manage but everything is calculated and I’m getting weaker and weaker, that kind of a thing. That really has slowed me down and it hasn’t slowed me down. A lot of things I’d like to do but I can’t do them anymore. Travel is very difficult. All the bouncing around I do to keep up with my charitable work is all calculated. I know how I can handle it. Going to the office in the city we’re at Rockefeller Plaza now, right at the skating rink. On city stuff, my city involvement, I have two retired policemen that drive my car. I pay them by the hour and they stay with me until I’m ready to leave, so I make it work, but it’s harder and harder. I keep pushing myself. I just wanted to explain what that is all about, my trusty walker sitting here next to me.

ND:
You say it hasn’t slowed you down from it yet. You’re still very active in a lot of things. Do you find that technology, with some of the things like conference calls…

ES:
Technology makes it a lot easier with conference calls and email. It’s a godsend really. I can do so much now and communication is so easy. That is a big help.

ND:
Well Ed I really do appreciate your time. Thank you very much for doing this.

ES:
I’d like to say congratulations to you. I admire you for what you’re doing. In the real world what would you like to end up doing?

ND:
I think development is where I’ve been leaning toward.

ES:
Development?

ND:
Yeah, I’ve been leaning toward it.

Duration

30:00
30:00
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Bit Rate/Frequency

128KBPS

Files

Citation

Nicholas DeMarco, “Edward W. Stack, November 25, 2011,” CGP Community Stories, accessed September 19, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/114.