Clark E. Swayze (1938-2008)
Clark E. Swayze was born on Nov. 22, 1938 in Saginaw, MI. At a young age he moved to Midland, MI where he attended school and graduated from Midland High in 1957. Swayze earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Michigan State University.
Swayze’s career began as a designer for the Dow Chemical Company where he worked as a packaging designer and engineer for several years before moving to Dow Corning as a supervisor of Corporate Design. In April of 1969, architect Alden B. Dow and artist Charles Breed approached Clark with the seed of a plan for an exhibit hall of ideas at the new Midland Center for the Arts.
Seizing the opportunity, Clark formed a partnership with Albert Theriault of Auburn and formed Exhibit Craftsmen. The new firm offered exhibit design and construction service to business and institutional clients providing complete planning, design, production and maintenance for trade show and museum installations. Within a few months, Clark and Al were joined by industrial designer Bruce Riley, who became a principal partner in the firm which eventually became Design Craftsmen, Inc.
Design Craftsmen specialized in the recreation of historical spaces and interactive exhibits. Key examples of his company’s work are the Michigan State Historical Museum in Lansing; the Herbert H. Dow Historical Museum in Midland; Schembechler Hall in Ann Arbor; the Science and Technology Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; the First Division Cantigny Museum in Wheaton, Ill.; the National Park Service Visitor Centers in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Glacier Bay, Alaska; the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills; the Texas State History Museum; Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Fl.; the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City; and many, many more.
From a three-man operation, Design Craftsmen Inc., with Swayze as President and Chief Executive Officer, grew to employ over 100 people in a multi-million dollar company. In 1990, Clark Swayze was named Master Entrepreneur of the Year by the Saginaw Valley Entrepreneurs Club. In his 33 years with Design Craftsmen, Swayze oversaw the design and production of installations throughout the United States and abroad.