Harry L. Clark Jr., 88, of Midland, went to be with the Lord on March 8, 2013, surrounded by family and friends. He was born on July 31, 1924, in New Orleans, La., to the late Lillian (Vaselak) Clark and Harry L. Clark, joining a large family of Bohemian and English immigrants.
Harry’s family moved to Ferndale when he was a young boy. Raised mostly by his beloved mother, a World War I nurse, Harry graduated from high school, immediately joining the Marines to fight in World War II hoping, he said, to “fight a war to end all wars so that his children and grandchildren could be spared that tragedy.” Harry joined the elite Marine Raiders unit, 4th Battalion, fighting from 1942-1945 as a sharpshooter, demolitions expert, flamethrower, sniper scout and “whatever they needed a brave Marine to do” to win the war. He was in the South Pacific campaign, which took him to Guadalcanal, Guam, the Solomon Islands, New Georgia and New Hebrides among other locations. He was also assigned to Battalion Intelligence, and made special reconnaissance runs on the Nautilus submarine.
After World War II, Harry attended Eastern Michigan University, where he met and married Sofia “Bunny” Appignani. Harry received a degree in teaching, and taught in Oxford. His family then moved to Midland where he taught English at Northeast Intermediate and was a much loved and remembered teacher, known for his creative teaching skills and special attention to students experiencing tough times. Harry also wrote poetry and short stories, volunteered for the Democratic Party, was a member of the early Midland Theater Guild, belonged to the Bridge Club, and was a happy (and greatly feared) editor of his children’s schoolwork.
Harry joined The Dow Chemical Co. as a communications professional, where he was known for his exceptional writing skills, keen intellect and ready wit and was rewarded with a succession of promotions and awards. He wrote countless pieces of literature, speeches and advertisements, traveling the world for Dow. After retiring from Dow after 30 years of service, he opened Clark Communications, carrying on a very successful consultancy.
Harry was known for a big, bellowing laugh that let everyone know where he could be found. He was a true gentleman and gifted storyteller with an unparalleled sense of humor. He had a special gift for making people from all walks of life feel appreciated and better about themselves, and was a respected mentor to many. Harry continued to inspire everyone he met right until the very end. What a wonderful legacy to leave.
Harry enjoyed reading, writing, philosophizing, fishing and spending time with family and friends. He especially enjoyed the family cabin, where he was able to relax, entertain, and enjoy the harmonic sounds of nature except when competing with his wife to catch the biggest fish. Bunny always won.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents; and Bunny, to whom he was married 64 years. He is survived by his six children, Mike (Pam) Clark, Steve (Kelly) Clark, Tim (Barbi) Clark, Katie (Mark) Howison, Patti (Doug) Engwis and David (Chris) Clark. He is also survived by 17 fantastic grandchildren; and 10 adorable great-grandchildren.
The family would like to extend a special thanks to Dad’s personal caregiver, Glenda Dean, the entire staff of Nottingham Place, and Bilye at Heartland Hospice. Your attention to Dad and support for his family was beyond extraordinary.
Visitation will be at the Ware-Smith Funeral Home in Midland on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, from 5-8 p.m. Visitation will also be at Blessed Sacrament on Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 11 a.m., followed by a church service at 12 p.m., with The Rev. Peter J. Gaspeny officiating, and luncheon in the church reception hall at 1 p.m. In honor of Harry’s military service, this will be followed by a graveside service with full military honors at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to the Literacy Council of Midland or to the U.S. Marine Raider Association.