Her task was to write about the mundane stuff of personal finance and retirement planning. Some of Jane Bennett Clark’s most recent clips for Kiplinger’s magazine include “6 Steps to Retire When You Want” and “Savers Get a Break on IRA Rollovers.”
But Clark, who was fatally struck by a bicyclist Thursday evening after leaving her downtown Washington office near Franklin Square, had a knack for getting the human side in even the most monotonous subjects.
“She was known for very provocative and nuanced features on the softer side of personal finance,” said Knight A. Kiplinger, the president of Kiplinger’s financial media company. He recalled Clark’s “gentleness and thoughtfulness” as the magazine’s senior editor.
“What we write about is pretty complicated and not always so exciting,” said Sandra Block, a senior associate editor. “She had a way of bringing it all to life.” The magazine’s editor, Janet Bodnar, called Clark a “beautiful wordsmith.”
The incident occurred a few minutes after Clark had left Kiplinger’s office in the 1100 block of 13th Street NW, about 6:30 p.m. The editors had just completed work on some of the next edition’s final stories, including two that will carry Clark’s byline.
Colleagues said Clark, 65, typically walked south on 13th to Metro Center to catch a Red Line train to her home in Takoma Park, Md. D.C. police said she had just stepped off a curb and into a crosswalk when she was struck by a bicyclist riding south on 13th.
Police have not said whether the bicyclist went through a red light or if Clark stepped into the street against a pedestrian signal. Police said the cyclist remained at the scene and no charges have been filed pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Clark was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center with a head injury. She died Friday. Her relatives did not wish to discuss the incident. Her bosses said that she had three grown children and one grandchild, and that one of her daughters is getting married next month.
Those who worked with Clark, some dating back to 1977 when she first started at Kiplinger’s, praised her ability to both get personal information from people and then weave their stories into what one of her editors described as “beautiful prose.”
Clark, who was born into a journalism family, left Kiplinger’s for a few years in the 1980s to raise her family and then returned.
She wrote for nearly every part of the magazine, which is popular for its financial advice. She also wrote and then later oversaw publication of a rating systems for universities, a time-consuming project.
If Clark wasn’t writing, she was cooking, those who knew her said, and years ago Kevin McCormally, the senior vice president for Kiplinger Washington Editors, jokingly said she “pulled off the biggest boondoggle in Kiplinger history, convincing us to send her to Tuscany for cooking school and to write a story.”
She returned with a story, and a new love, and her staff and family benefited for years to come. Her colleagues recall her complex cakes; she even made a daughter’s wedding cake.
Last year, Clark wrote and co-wrote stories for an award-winning series on women and money. One of her assignments was making financial decisions after the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one. She interviewed a woman whose husband had just died climbing a mountain.
“She told the mundane financial details that people needed to know through the eyes of this woman’s experience,” Bodnar said. “When I edited the story, I started to cry. How often do you cry reading a personal finance story?”