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Clark Family Photo
Clark takes a trip to England in 1979. His public-relations work has required a lot of traveling.

PROVO — Ronald J. Clark could be described as the epitome of a public-relations guy. He's suave, confident, always ready with a warm smile and a hearty handshake. He really likes people and he really likes what he does.

He's also a great fan of the Osmonds, Brigham Young University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a good thing since he's spent most of his life promoting and defending the three institutions.

For the Osmond family, he dedicated 14 years to seeing that the news about them, their careers, shows and personal events was presented in a positive, honest light.

For BYU, he's devoted 23 years welcoming and guiding VIPS around the campus — from queens to princes to presidents, first ladies and prime ministers.

For the church, he's given most of his 60 years as he's constantly found questions coming to him about gospel principles, doctrine and practice as he's handled the press and the public curious about the famous Osmonds and spirit of BYU.

"People come here to BYU and they feel it, the spirit, and they wonder about that," Clark said.

One of his favorite memories is of President Ronald Reagan sitting in the president's home on campus soaking in the "wonderful spirit in this home."

Another such moment came just recently: "When Vice President Cheney was here, one of his entourage was standing in the tunnel after everyone had gone. He came up to me, this 9-foot guy, and said, "The university set the bar the very highest. We will refer to this as the grandmother of our success."

Clark has thousands of such memories built on giving personal daily tours over two decades. He and his staff figure they have come up with 150 versions of the campus tour, tours that not only introduce visitors to the university but to the LDS culture if they ask about the church.

They've all learned what to do and what not to do for the varied religions and cultures. They make travel arrangements, lodging arrangements, dining suggestions, see to the comfort and safety of heads of state and make international friends.

Clark said it hasn't been without mishaps. "We've had our dietary hiccups, such as the time some very distinguished Muslim guests came in for which we'd ordered some little beef sausages."

Those sausages turned out to be pork, which had to quickly be replaced by a fast-response food service department, as did the green salad peppered with bacon bits.

"We have hosted the cultures of the world on this campus," Clark said. "We have to place the success on so many shoulders."

Clark sometimes downplays his contributions, but Alan Osmond says he's one of the most talented, eloquent and loyal men he's ever known.

"He's not a friend. He's a brother. He's one of us," Osmond said. "He just believed in us. He traveled the world with us. We prayed together. We cried together. I couldn't think of a greater friend."

Clark signed on to help represent the Osmond family after he toted a bunch of mailbags to the Riviera Apartments, letters that came to the church's office building addressed to "Donny Osmond in the Salt Lake Temple." He met mother Olive Osmond, who asked for his help preparing foreign press releases.

"Next thing I knew, I was doing their press relations. I really had two jobs, my day job and my Osmond job in the evenings."

Clark believes making sure situations and personalities were explained correctly was critical, both for the Osmonds and for the LDS Church.

"We were definitely able to protect, to justify and to explain their message. It would've been very difficult for someone else (not in the church) to explain to a worldwide audience what they were about. I was given free rein to speak on their behalf."

He worked for them "24/7 for 14 years" until health concerns, a growing need to be at home with his wife and children more frequently and the Osmonds' Osmond's financial setbacks persuaded him to take the full-time director of public affairs and guest relations to at BYU.

"I love the family but I believe it was time. I was on the road seven to nine months of the year and it was constant effort, constant stress," Clark said. -->

Today, he remains a steadfast friend and works quietly for the family as needed, such as serving as spokesman during Olive Osmond's funeral in 2004.

"I find it very satisfying to serve them in small ways," he said. "I understand them, their heartbeats. There's nobody else like them."

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com