Principal Joe Clark dies at 82, subject of film ‘Lean on Me’

National News

FILE – In this Dec. 21, 1987, file photo, Eastside High School Principal Joe Clark is pictured at a rally by student supporters in Paterson, N.J. Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film “Lean on Me,” died at his Florida home on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, after a long battle with an unspecified illness, his family said in statement. He was 82. (AP Photo/Peter Cannata, File)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film “Lean on Me,” died at his Florida home on Tuesday. He was 82.

Clark had battled an unspecified illness, his family said in statement.

His family said in a statement that Clark started teaching at a Paterson grade school in Essex County, N.J., before becoming principal of PS 6 Grammar School.

He was later appointed principal of the crime and drug-ridden Eastside High School.

Morgan Freeman starred as Clark in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” that was loosely based on Clark’s tenure at Eastside.

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 1988, file photo, Joe Clark, principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, N.J., stands with rap group Run-DMC before the group gave a concert at the school in support of Clark’s way of running his school. Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film “Lean on Me,” died at his Florida home on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, after a long battle with an unspecified illness, his family said in statement. He was 82. (AP Photo/Peter Cannata, File)

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