Rose Clark has spent a lifetime devoted to public service in Burien and the Highline area. She moved to Burien with her husband from Montana in 1966, before Burien was even a city.
After having children, she began to get more involved in her community.
“I remember one of my child’s teachers saying that successful children have involved parents,” said Clark. “So that’s what started my dedication to public service.”
Starting in her children’s schools, she became a leader in the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Her natural leadership qualities were soon recognized, and she was asked to step into new leadership roles in both community and school settings.
In the 1990s, when SeaTac Airport began plans to expand the third runway, she worked with other local women to organize the first community-led resistance to expansion of the airport. Among their concerns were worries about the health impacts of more flights over Highline communities, impacts on the learning environment and physical damage to the schools, and environmental concerns of a third runway that would expand airport operations significantly. She organized the first Highline-area study of health impacts of airport operations, which led to annual public health reports.
After Burien incorporated as a city in 1993 and after almost decades of volunteer public service, Clark was asked to serve on the City of Burien’s first Planning Commission. She was a member of a group of Burien community leaders who helped form the City’s first Comprehensive Plan and the 20-year vision for Burien’s Town Square, paving the way for the vibrant and dynamic downtown Burien we enjoy today.
Clark was elected three times to the Burien City Council, serving between the years 2000-2013, serving as deputy mayor for eight of those years.
After two decades of municipal service, she went back to her roots in public school service, serving as the first chairperson of the Highline Public School’s Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, which helps prioritize essential school infrastructure investments. She now serves on the Highline Oversight Committee, tracking the use of voter-approved bond funds.
Clark also spends time pursuing one of her other passions, preserving the history of Burien and Highline communities. Through her leadership in the Des Moines Memorial Drive Preservation Association, she is helping keep focus on the nation’s only living memorial road to World War I fallen soldiers, a memorial that dates to the 1920s, helping ensure that the sacrifice of those soldiers is not forgotten, and a local treasured roadway is improved.
“Volunteering opens valuable learning experiences as well as meeting very interesting people. Volunteer!” Clark advised.
Clark was presented a proclamation to honor her as Burien Citizen of the Year. Former Burien Mayor Kitty Milne presented the plaque to her.