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OLIVER EUGENE CLARK

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Clark, Oliver Eugene, of Anaheim Hills died peacefully on July 19, 2013. Mr. Clark was born on January 31, 1918, in Chicago to Gertrude Katherine Lutsch and Paul Eugene Clark. His mother, a noted elocutionist and actress, hosted a radio program on Parks, Monuments and Fountains of Chicago and once appeared on stage with young Orson Welles. His father was a railroad engineer on the Hiawatha, the fastest steam locomotive in the country. His maternal grandfather, Peter Lutsch, a banker and business man, instilled a strong work ethic and a love of numbers and accounting in the young man. Mr. Clark, a successful entrepreneur, investor and retailer, was still doing his taxes into his 90s.

Early in life, Ollie, as he was known, was a stage performer and drummer. In adolescence he turned to baseball, signaling his lifelong love of sports, and played for several semi-pro baseball teams in Chicago's Windy City League before joining the Army Air Corps in World War II.

Trained as a high-altitude bombardier on the heavy-duty B-24 Liberator, Mr. Clark was one of the most experienced bombardiers in World War II, completing sixty combat missions in the Pacific theatre. Known for pinpoint accuracy, he earned several air medals, including five Oak Leaf Clusters. As lead squadron bombardier, Mr. Clark helped liberate Formosa, now Taiwan. Clark's early service, including the loss of crew members, is documented in A Missing Plane, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Susan Sheehan.

Returning to Chicago in 1945, Mr. Clark married his fiancee, Bianca (also known as Blanche), an educator. A year later they settled in Santa Ana where Bianca taught at the Paularino School in Costa Mesa in the late 1940s, when it was a two-room schoolhouse. Together they raised seven children in Santa Ana, where Mr. Clark was the general manager of the Santa Ana Elks Lodge from 1947 to 1978.

A believer in giving back to the community and helping those in need, Mr. Clark was generous to numerous charities including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Catholic church. He organized early fundraisers for Mater Dei High School with Dr. Tom Clark (no relation). Due in large part to his efforts, the Rudy Bros. Circus returned annually to the Santa Ana Bowl in the '50s and '60s as a major fundraiser for cerebral palsy. Mr. Clark also had a great love of fishing and golf, which he enjoyed with his five sons and friends. Known for his integrity, sense of humor, and compassion, he was a devoted family man and loyal friend and will be greatly missed.

A recent resident of Seal Beach, Mr. Clark was predeceased by Bianca, his wife of sixty-three years, in 2008. He is survived by his children, Oliver Clark, Jr. of San Pedro, Dr. Donna Clark Duane of Newport Beach, artist Timothy J. Clark of Capistrano Beach and New York City, filmmaker Mark Clark of New York City, Matthew Clark of Anaheim Hills, Dr. Jonathan Clark of Santa Ana, and Bianca Clark Haley of Palos Verdes Estates; ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, Mr. Clark can be remembered with a donation to the Jules Stein Eye Institute for Macular Degeneration Research. Checks should be made payable to The UC Regents in memory of Oliver Eugene Clark, and sent to the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA, c/o Gail Summers, 100 Stein Plaza, Room 1-124, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7000. A private service will be held.

Published in Orange County Register from July 28 to July 29, 2013
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