LAKE PLACID -Matthew B. Clark Jr., 85, of Lake Placid, passed away Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, at his home with his family by his side.
He was born Dec. 21, 1926, in Lake Placid, the son of Matthew Benjamin and Beatrice Maude (Lengfeld) Clark. He married Janet Carol Jacques on Jan. 1, 1956 in St. Eustace Church, Lake Placid.
A family man through and through, dad left us with an indelible respect for tradition. Holidays were filled with love, laughter, stories of years gone by and plenty of homemade treats.
He graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1946 and in June 1949 from The American Academy of Embalming and Mortuary Research Inc. in New York City. He was very active in sports his entire life as a participant in track and field, football and bobsledding, later having coached and umped Little League baseball. A bobsledding accident, which resulted in loss of his leg, changed his role in sports as he became a leader and manager wanting young people to be involved in sport. In 1956 he, along with John "Bud" Colby, re-established the Junior Ski Jumping program in Lake Placid where he was the manager/treasurer helping to create numerous regional and national champions as well as Olympians.
Dad loved his country. As kids we raised and lowered the American flag every day and night. And of course he taught us how to fold it and watched from the kitchen to assure that it did not touch the
ground. He told a story of sneaking to New York City and lying about his age to try to get into the military at age 17 (before his bobsledding accident), but being turned down because the doctor heard a heart murmur.
He attended the local parades with a station wagon full of kids, except for the ones who weren't marching in the band or the Girl Scouts. He patiently and casually taught all eight kids to drive and parallel-park those giant station wagons on Main Street, just smiling and chewing on that perpetual cigar, saying, "Good, you're good, keep going." Many of us secretly wanted Mom to take us for "a turn" to practice.
Dad also loved his church, making sure that we all attended Sunday school every Sunday. He had a strong faith and was able to refer to specific passages on a moment's notice. He was a great resource for all of us when needing scripture for any occasion.
Saturdays were a day for a "ride with Dad." But as Mom would warn us, "You'd better be ready because you know he's going to be out that door when he's done with his coffee and toast and he won't wait."
Then we piled in the car and went for a drive. To where, no one knew, but we always wanted to be in the car. Truthfully, we don't think Dad knew where he was going, either. However, most times we ended up at the cemetery in Ingraham, where his family members are buried, for a moment of quiet, respectful remembrance. Then, if we were lucky, we might get to stop for an ice cream cone on the way home.
Dad was a dedicated family man serving as "Grand Marshall" of the annual Clark Family Horseshow picnic, in later years providing rides on his scooter for all of the children who attended. The family traditions created by Dad and Mom provide lasting memories for family and extended family alike. He looked forward to Halloween and the annual tradition of baking and decorating cookies. Mom did the baking and Dad took charge of decorating. Dad was a man of great character who always put his family first.
His consideration for others always showed through his efforts and involvement in community service. He was instrumental in securing the transportation for Head Start. He also served as president of the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service as well as the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He assisted with the North Elba Community Christmas Fund offering and the Clark family garage became the unofficial collection and distribution center for clothing for anyone in need. He helped to organize the Literacy Volunteers and was a member and trustee of the Elks Club for 57 years. He wasn't afraid of taking on a cause.
Dad dedicated more than 40 years to the town of North Elba, from 1954 to 1981 as town clerk and from 1981 until he retired in 1995 as supervisor. Among his numerous accomplishments, he often spoke of the negotiation of the contract between the town of North Elba and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (which subsequently resulted in Lake Placid being named an official U.S. Olympic Training Center) as one of his most rewarding.
He received numerous awards and acknowledgments over the years, including the Liberty Bell Award from the Essex County Bar Association in 1978, the MacDougal Award for long and devoted service in 1999, and was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame in 1991. This past June, Dad and Uncle Reg were honored as distinguished alumni of the Lake Placid High School Alumni Association.
Above all, dad was a dedicated family and community man often citing his greatest accomplishment as his family.
He is survived by his wife Janet Carol (Jacques) Clark of Lake Placid; Cora K. Clark of Lake Placid and her children Emily and Marjorie; Abigail Clark Breen and her husband John of Coxsackie and their children, Molly and John Henry; Gisele G. Clark of Astoria, Queens; Beatrice L. Henriksson of Brattleboro, Vt. and her children Jacob and Amy; Matthew B. Clark III and his wife Kimberly (Zaleski) and their children Marykate, Caroline and Hillary of Brockton, Mass.; Polly Jo Clark of Park City, Utah; Zachary S. Clark and his wife Jacqueline (Dyer) and their children Emma and Madelyn of Lake Placid; and Willis V. Clark and his wife Kristen (Mainville) and their son Nolan of Lake Placid; one brother, Reginald F. Clark and his wife Barbara (Fadden) of Lake Placid; his sister-in-law Mary (Rumney) Clark of Lake Placid; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents and one brother Richard W. Clark.
A funeral service was held at Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the Adirondack Community Church on Main Street in Lake Placid, with the Rev. John Martin officiating. Burial followed in North Elba Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service, P.O. Box 107, Lake Placid, NY 12946; North Elba Christmas Fund, c/o Denise Fredericks, Town Hall, 2693 Main St., Lake Placid, NY 12946; or High Peaks Hospice, 19 Church St., Saranac Lake, NY 12983.
Family and friends are invited to "light a candle" and leave a memory, story and prayer for the family to cherish at www.mbclarkfuneralhome.com.