John Clarke, head of aerospace company AIL, dies

Funeral services will be held this morning for

Funeral services will be held this morning for John P. Clarke, a former president of the Long Island aerospace company AIL. (Credit: handout)

Funeral services will be held this morning for John P. Clarke, a former president of the Long Island aerospace company AIL.

Clarke died Thursday at his home in Syosset after a long illness, his family said. He was 83.

Clarke became president of AIL, then a division of Cutler Hammer Inc. of Milwaukee, in 1977 during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, a period when military spending was closely scrutinized.

"He stepped into a very challenging defense arena," said Richard Dunne of West Islip, a former public relations executive at AIL.

Clarke left as president of what had become a division of Eaton Corp. of Cleveland in 1984, during the massive defense buildup under President Ronald Reagan. He moved from that post to a newly created senior vice presidency overseeing Eaton's government systems operations, which were managed primarily from Long Island.

As head of AIL, Clarke oversaw projects that included the design and building of the radar jamming system for the Air Force B-1 bomber, electronic countermeasures for the Navy/Grumman EA6B radar jamming plane, the automatic landing system for the NASA space shuttle orbiters, and air traffic control and microwave landing systems for civilian and military use.

Born and raised in Manhattan, Clarke graduated from Manhattan College in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and joined AIL, then in Mineola, in 1955, said his wife, Carolyn.

Although its programs continue, AIL no long exists as such; portions of it were swallowed in mergers by Telephonics Corp. of Farmingdale and ITT Corp. of White Plains.

Carolyn Clarke said her husband was an avid golfer and enjoyed classical music and was active at one time with the Long Island Philharmonic, as well as the United Way, Boy Scouts and American Heart Association.

Besides his wife, survivors include six children: Carolyn and John of Atlanta, Alexandra of Smithtown, Victoria of North Massapequa, Louise of Binghamton and Noelle of Wantagh.

The services will be at 9:45 a.m. at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Syosset, with burial to follow at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.

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