Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This is the one that went to the Alfred Sun

Reverend David Stillman Clarke died in Sayre, Pennsylvania, at 3:25 pm on July 11, 2007. He had successfully undergone a partial hip replacement surgery after a fall, but succumbed to pneumonia.
David was born to Agnes Kenyon Clarke and Ford Stillman Clarke on March 3, 1919 in Hornell, New York, although the family resided in Alfred. David’s father died from the combined effects of Tuberculosis and Influenza later that same year, so David and his two older siblings were raised by their mother and their grandparents, Alpheus B. and M. Veola Kenyon. Kenyon was trained in carpentry in his youth, but had become an Instructor, Registrar, Dean, and (twice) Acting President of Alfred University.
Although he had never known his father, David nevertheless followed his pattern of being very active in church and civic affairs. Dr. Lloyd Watson, an Alfred University chemistry professor who was the first in the world to successfully inseminate a honey bee queen using instruments, was a father figure for David, encouraging him to do things well. David’s step-father Ahva J.C. Bond, was also a strong influence on him. Bond was Dean of the Theological School at Alfred University, was a promoter of ecumenism, and introduced outdoor camping as a form of Christian Education to the Seventh Day Baptist denomination in the 1930s. These themes continued throughout David’s life.
David worked in Dr. Watson’s apiary with Watson’s son, Huber, during his high school years. After graduating from Alfred Union High School in 1937 as class valedictorian, David hitch-hiked to Kansas State University and began studies in entomology. After one year there, David became convinced that he should enter the Christian ministry, so he hitch-hiked back to Alfred, where he met Frances Catherine Polan, whom he married on May 31, 1942. David earned his Bachelor of Arts from Alfred University in 1941 and Frances graduated the following year. She was a minister’s daughter and enthusiastically supported him in his career, as well as in numerous charitable endeavors.
David spent one semester at the Graduate Theological School at Oberlin College before returning to Alfred, where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Graduate Theological School at Alfred University in 1944. He was Missionary Pastor to the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Jackson Center, Ohio for the next year and a half. David was ordained a Minister of the Gospel on June 7, 1944, just six months before the Clarkes’ first child was born.
David next took a position as Assistant Missionary Secretary of the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, necessitating a move to Westerly, Rhode Island. This resulted in David, traveling alone in what must have been a blizzard, more than once getting stuck in deep snow. The Clarkes’ first son was born in Westerly in 1946, followed by a daughter in 1949 and another in 1950. David was later promoted to Executive Secretary of the Missionary Society.
From 1951 to 1955, David served as pastor of the Seventh Day Baptist Church in New Auburn, Wisconsin, where he drove a school bus, kept bee hives, and did farm work and carpentry to supplement the family income. He was also active in an effort to start a church in the Twin Cities.
In 1955 David was called to the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where the Clarkes’ second son was born. There, David helped a rancher friend, Paul Hummel, take salt to cattle grazing in the Rocky Mountains, spending a few days in the saddle and camping out. The rancher’s daughter was disappointed that David was not saddle-sore upon their return. David was active in programming for a camp operated by the church, on land donated by Hummel.
While in Boulder, the Clarke family took in a student refugee from the Hungarian Revolution who had narrowly escaped execution in his home country. They helped him learn to speak English and adapt to life in the United States. He is a successful inventor, engineer and business owner.
David next served as pastor, from 1961 to 1963, of the Seventh Day Baptist Church at North Loup, Nebraska, and was involved in the camping program there.
David was called to serve the Seventh Day Baptist Church in his hometown, Alfred, New York in 1963. His eldest daughter had already attended one year at Alfred University, living with her grandmother in the home where David had spent most of his childhood.
David weathered the tumultuous 1960s as pastor in Alfred, allowing the youth of the church to use guitars and participate in worship. David worked actively with college students, challenging them to think for themselves but respect others’ opinions in open dialogue. He directed camp sessions for all ages at Camp Harley Sutton, and was lifeguard for several camping seasons. The summer garden at the parsonage was turned into an ice-skating rink in the winter, and young people often came to visit the Clarkes.
David was President of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference for its 1968 session, choosing the theme “Yoked by Christ In Missions” for the proceedings held at Kearney, Nebraska.
David’s father had been the first Boy Scout Master of the Alfred troop, and David was a Scout Master while living in Wisconsin, joining the Order of the Arrow. David and Frances were both active in local efforts to assist migrant workers in Steuben and Allegany counties, working with people of other faiths in this and other work. David helped found the Alfred Lions Club chapter and was an early President.
David was Executive Secretary of the Seventh Day Baptist Board of Christian Education from 1970 to 1976. In this capacity, he worked to create and promote resources for Christian camping and church school programs, as a way of connecting people of all ages with their environment, each other, and their Creator. He edited the denomination’s Bible Study guide, The Helping Hand, in 1974.
During these years, David and Frances and their youngest child moved into the house David’s great-grandfather and grandfather had built in the 1870s. This enabled them to care for his mother and aunt as each of them neared or surpassed their hundredth birthday. Then they cared for an aging cousin and several family friends.
With all their children grown, the Clarkes took in student boarders from China and Tunisia, enjoying the contact with other cultures and people. During this time David served as caretaker and trustee of Camp Harley Sutton, and continued to be active in church and community affairs. David did volunteer work with the Allegany County Office for the Aging and managed a Food Pantry.
When their youngest child returned to Alfred and began building a home, the Clarkes helped with construction, gardening, and caring for their youngest grandchild. David enjoyed teaching his younger son and grandchildren about bees and how to manage their hives.
Cancer ended Fran’s life in 1998, after fifty-six years of marriage, five children, five grandchildren, many friendships, and many years of service to all kinds of people.
David married a widowed friend, Ethel Davis Dickinson, two years later. She had served as denominational secretary, and her first husband, Harmon Dickinson, had been in theological school with David. Both men had served as pastors of Seventh Day Baptist churches, and the two families had sometimes lived in the same region at the same time.
At first, David and Ethel spent half of each year in each other’s homes, but when her health declined, they stayed at her home in Fort Mill, South Carolina year-round. David looked after Ethel until she moved into assisted living near her daughter in August of 2006. Since he was still fairly healthy, he moved back to his home in Alfred. David worked on the manuscripts of two books for several months until his own health began to fail, leaving editing and publication to his children.
David was pre-deceased by his father Ford Stillman Clarke, who died on August 23, 1919 and his mother, Agnes Kenyon Clarke, who died on October 7, 1985. He was also pre-deceased by his sister Mary Roberta Clarke who died September 16, 1939, and his brother, Ford Kenyon Clarke, who died April 12, 1999. His wife, Frances died on April 19, 1998 but his second wife, Ethel, survives him. He is survived by all five of his children, Roberta Ellis of Queensbury, New York, D. Sherman Clarke of New York, New York, Cathy (Bruce) Baumgarten of Syosset, New York, Carol (Barbara Crumb) Clarke of Branchport, New York, and G. Douglas (Jeanette) Clarke of Alfred Station, New York. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Kim (Brian) McKay of Cambridge, New York, Michael (Sue) Ellis of Rumney, New Hampshire, Michael Baumgarten and Ilana Baumgarten, both of Syosset, New York, and Ian Clarke of Alfred Station, New York, and three great-grandchildren, John, Kate, and Lucy McKay of Cambridge, New York.
A service of remembrance and celebration will be held at 1:00 on August 4th, 2007, at the 1st Seventh Day Baptist Church of Alfred, New York. A reception will follow in the adjoining Parish House. Interment will be at Alfred Rural Cemetery, at a later time.
Condolences and other communications may be sent to the family at 33 South Main Street, Alfred, NY 14802 or dsclarke3319@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the 1st Seventh Day Baptist Church of Alfred, New York, the Seventh Day Baptist Board of Christian Education, or the Alfred Rural Cemetery Association.

1 comment:

musiclover said...

Bravo! Pop would blush, but that's as it should be when you are an humble person. --Cathy