November 27, 1937 - June 5, 2021
My Story [Written by Jack Clark himself – assembled by his son with excerpts taken from countless letters, emails, writings found on his computer at his passing.] BEGINNINGS My story begins in a little farming community in southeast Michigan. (I’ve been gone since 1956 but I still got several birthday greetings from those dear people!) My sister Ruth Elaine and brother, Keith, were added to our family shortly after. Many experiences taught me independence. At four years of age, it became necessary for me to drive the tractor while dad loaded hay on the wagon behind me. The next year I drove the tractor – all alone - discing the newly plowed ground. (With nearly disastrous results.) I went hunting – with the rifle – at age 8. I inherited a strong work ethic from both parents and siblings. Music was a family value. I sang my first solo at church at age 2. (With Mom sitting on the front row, ready to prompt me if I needed help, I sang all three stanzas: “My momma loves me dearly, my daddy loves me too. But Jesus loves me best of all and I love Him, don’t you?” Our parents had the three of us singing at churches all over Michigan! I attended a rural, one-room school house from kindergarten through 8th grade. We had one teacher for all students in all grades. I was the first Clark to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college! Besides graduating from Moody Bible Institute, my educational experiences include: Illinois University, BA in Psychology; Wheaton College, MA in Christian Education. My Christian parents were obviously influential ... but they had a powerful ally - Pastor DuBois! During an altar call one Sunday morning, I felt so convicted to go forward but hesitated. On the way to Gma’s house for lunch, I told my dad about wanting to accept Christ. That night, Pastor DuBois led me to the Lord. DuBois also introduced my family to Gull Lake. My first trip to Gull Lake was as a 5-year-old in 1942. That started an annual Clark family tradition. MY LOVE Ruth Elaine had been accepted to Moody and was making plans to visit the campus. She already had her date. Now I needed a date. I really wanted to ask Shirley Billman from Wakarusa Indiana. She was outstanding... that cute girl with a red & white checkered dress with a full skirt that caught my eye. So I screwed up all my courage and made my way to the music building where Shirley was. Our first date was on May 2, 1959. We were engaged on September 2, 1959. We were married on December 19, 1959. We “dated” (saw each other) every day from our first date until we were married. We often said, we crammed 3 years of dating into seven months. I was so eager to introduce my “special friend” to my family. Shirley, with all her charm, made an instant hit. Our wedding was a wonderful start to our 43-year journey together! After years of marriage, I learned the magic of “Mystery Dates.” These took a lot of forethought & planning, which Shirley always appreciated. I suggested something to wear. The rest was a surprise – a mystery. One time I had Becky Jo pack her suitcase for a get-away. Even later, when we were “empty nesters”, Shirley loved to travel with me ... sometimes 5 or 6 trips a year! She had no responsibilities --- and no expenses!!! Wow! FAMILY I have been blessed beyond measure with two children, two grandchildren, and a loving sister and brother. Becky Jo-- we are indebted to you for your generous and thoughtful spirit. I appreciate you so very much. You are truly one-of-a-kind! What an example you have set for us. When I look up “generous spirit” in the dictionary … they have your picture there!! I have so many fond memories during this past year. We can be comforted with our closeness! Your steadfast support and help have given me strength. I could not have weathered all the storms without you! Thank you. I love you, Becky Jo. Jack II and I have a unique and deeply special relationship!! All these years I’ve been a willing participant in his exciting world, observed, with fatherly pride, his development. We have laughed & cried together. I cherish a million wonderful memories from adventures on the lake, skiing in the mountains, riding motorcycles together, participating in your sports and drama. I’m “in your corner” son. Jack found the love of his life, Alysa. She meshes well with Jack’s wit, charm, spirit of adventure, heart of service, and passion for life. Alysa is one who obviously walks with God. You have a simple faith, but it’s real. Alysa, I love you very much. You have been a faithful, respectful, considerate daughter. Any dad would be supremely proud!! All three of my kidos are outstanding kingdom leaders!! I could not have hoped for more!!! Your mother and I just appreciate being with you! We love you! They have given me two precious grand children: Madison and Jack III, (“Jackson”). Madison, you are becoming quite the independent person. Be assured Madison, Jesus, your parents, and all of us love you dearly. Our continuing support for you will be constant. Jackson… my man – I love how expressive you are. We never know how much genuine affirmation affects our relationships but let me take this opportunity to commend you and to encourage you! I love you and am proud of you! We all miss Shirley so much. We often comment that it is too bad that Shirley cannot be with us to see how our family is maturing – to joyfully share in the results of her influence. She would be a very proud and grateful mother and grandmother. We are so blest to have a spiritually sensitive, intact family. Keith – is a one of a kind: a sacrificial helper. In so many ways he was a giant of a man. Keith reminds me of my biblical hero, Barnabas, “the encourager”. I am so proud to call you my brother! I love you! During the struggles of Shirley’s illness, and later, my own health issue, Ruth Elaine was ever present. Boatloads of food were thoughtfully prepared & delivered. Thousands of miles were added to her odometer. Sorting, moving, loading, cleaning & haircuts represented the tons of love she offered. She was and continues to be the ideal aunt to Becky Jo! She is simply too good to us! So, with respect, we remain indebted to her forever. I love you sis! CAREER My career can be divided in two distinct ... but related parts: The first 17 years I served in a church; Palos Baptist, Lorimer Baptist, and First Baptist Church of Wheaton… and later at Countryside Chapel serving alongside my sister and her husband and my friend, Dave Jankowski. Serving in music, youth, or Christian Education ... but always involved in church administration. I have been abundantly blessed to have had three mentors: Pastor DuBois during my formative years, Don Hescott at Lorimer, and Lowell Brown during the final 30 years of ministry. Countless times I have been somewhere and heard someone call out, “PJ!” (Pastor Jack). I’ve had the privilege to hear from so many the impact that I’ve had on their life’s years or decades earlier. From a recent random encounter with Penny whom I hadn’t seen in 40+ years... “Thank you for all you did to encourage me in my walk with the Lord during those critical Jr Hi years at Pine Trail Camp – you are an important person in my faith journey.” The remaining 30 years I served hundreds of churches nationwide through I.C.L. Seminar Team, Gospel Light. Eventually I started the “Fellowship of Christian Educators”. What a most rewarding, fulfilling, joyful career! Looking back now, I can more clearly see the faithful hand of God ... as He directed the sometimes zig-zagging lines of life experiences. Again, I thank each one of you for your part! Regarding my career & family, I have no regrets. I am most fortunate! RECENT YEARS Each day as I look out over the beautiful shores of Gull Lake, I thank God for His special favor. In 1991 we purchased lake front and promptly did a complete rehab. All of you know how much I love the water!! At 67, I finally hung up the slalom ski, and finally started to “act my age”! The hearing loss is debilitating ... and the heart issue could be life threatening. BUT, I have packed more living into all my years then I could have ever imagined! I have no regrets! I am most grateful that I am still mobile and independent ... BUT most of all, very content! I had what I call a “GOD” moment recently. It started when my brother, five years younger than I, passed away. About the time of his collapse, the melody of a really old song revisited me... one that had been buried in my memory since my childhood. Now easily 70 years later, I could not rid my mind of that catchy tune of “A Meeting in the Air”. I cannot explain why. Chorus: There is going to be a meeting in the air in the sweet, sweet bye and bye. I am going to meet you, meet you over there in that home beyond the sky. Such singing you will hear never heard by mortal ear 'twill be glorious, I do declare. And God's own Son will be the leading one at the meeting in the air. AFTERWARD Jack Clark went home to Jesus on June 5. He was in his own home overlooking Gull Lake, surrounded by those closest to him. He was a great father, brother, “papa” and friend. He was a great man. Celebration of Life service will occur on June 10 at Bible Baptist Church with visitation starting at 11:30, service at 1:00, graveside at 3:00 and a meal afterwards. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Don Shire Ministries International – a ministry that Jack supported that provides relief and support for the needy in Haiti.
My Story [Written by Jack Clark himself – assembled by his son with excerpts taken from countless letters, emails, writings found on his computer at his passing.] BEGINNINGS My story begins in a little farming community in southeast... View Obituary & Service Information
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