In Memoriam: Clark Burrus

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Clark Burrus, GFOA past-president and former comptroller of the City of Chicago, died June 17, 2015, at the age of 86.

“Clark Burrus was a trailblazer in so many ways and mentor and friend to many, well-respected in both the public and private sectors,” Jeff Esser, GFOA CEO, said.

Burrus started working for the city in 1954 as a field auditor in the Department of Aviation. He was named comptroller in 1974, and during his tenure, Chicago received its first AA rating. He joined First National Bank in 1979 and retired 12 years later.

In 1978, Burrus became the first African-American president of GFOA; he was later made an honorary life member of the association.

Burrus served on a number of boards, including the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and the Chicago Council of Urban Affairs, and he was trustee for five municipal pension funds. Recruited to the Chicago Public Schools Board in 1982, Burrus’ negotiation is credited with ending a bitter three-week teachers’ strike. He also served as chair of the Chicago Transit Authority. Over the course of his distinguished career, five consecutive Chicago mayors – Richard J. Daley, Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer, and Richard M. Daley – relied on Burrus’ help with city budget and financial matters.