James Edward Clark, 82, formerly of Swarthmore, a pioneering kidney specialist and former chairman of medicine at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, died of complications from Parkinson's disease Nov. 24 at Plush Mills, a retirement community in Wallingford.

Dr. Clark joined the faculty of Thomas Jefferson University in 1956. Several years later, he acquired a hemodialysis machine. He planned to use the machine to research adrenal problems, but instead found it invaluable in treating patients with acute renal failure. He established a kidney unit at Jefferson and in 1963 helped organize the team that performed the first kidney transplant in the area at Hahnemann Hospital.

In 1968, Dr. Clark left Jefferson to head the medical department at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. He was also chief of nephrology and initiated a graduate teaching program there. From 1985 until retiring in 2005, Dr. Clark was director of graduate medical education at Crozer. He was a former director of health service for Swarthmore College, and maintained a private practice in nephrology and internal medicine at Crozer until his retirement.

The Clark Ambulatory Care Center at Crozer is named in his honor. He oversaw the design of the building's auditorium.

Dr. Clark was past president of the Jefferson Medical College Alumni Association and of the Pennsylvania Society of Nephrology. In the 1970s, he cochaired the first conferences on hemodialysis in the Soviet Union and in Iraq. He received an award from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1974.

Dr. Clark grew up in West Virginia and was a drum major in his high school's marching band. When he was a senior, he enlisted in the Navy Medical Corps during World War II. His mother picked up his high school diploma.

After service in the Pacific, he earned a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. He earned a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College and sang in the school's glee club. He completed an internship and a residency in nephrology at Jefferson.

Dr. Clark was a voracious reader, especially of Dickens; a sailor; a tennis and chess player; a skilled woodworker, and a legendary raconteur and jokester, his family said. He played drums with a Dixieland band, the South Swarthmore Street Stompers, and sang in productions at Swarthmore College. He enjoyed musical performances at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and Broadway shows.

He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Virginia Clark; sons David and Stephen; daughter Anne; stepdaughters Kristin Howard, Anne Di Rosa and Heidi Foggo; stepsons John Oberdiek; 15 grandchildren; and his former wife, Mary Ellen Nelson.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, 727 Harvard Ave.

Memorial donations may be made to Crozer-Chester Foundation, 1 Medical Center Blvd., Upland, Pa. 19013.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.