Donna S. Clark

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  • "I will always remember Donna. She was always willing to..."
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Donna Helene Schewel Clark died peacefully at her home on Burnt Bridge Road on Friday, May 8, 2015, after a brief but devastating illness. Donna was the daughter of Helene P. Schewel and the late Bertram R. Schewel. She was preceded in death by her paternal grandparents, Benjamin D. Schewel and Rae N. Schewel, and by her maternal grandparents, Jacob H. Parish and Rae B. Parish. Besides her mother, Donna is survived by her husband Gary A. Clark, her son Jordan Schewel Clark, her daughter Julie Schewel Clark, and her brothers Marc A. and Jonathan B. (Jack) Schewel. Also surviving are six nieces and nephews â€" David B. Schewel of New York City, Sara S. Foster of Ithaca NY, Matthew A. Schewel of Washington DC, Esther H. Schewel of New York City, Bertram C. Schewel of Chapel Hill NC, and Hannah E. Schewel of Greensboro NC â€" and a lifelong friend, Lisa Kaplan, also of New York City, all of whom journeyed many miles to comfort Donna in her final days. Their gathering at her bedside recalled the many Thanksgivings the extended family celebrated at her and Gary’s Wintergreen retreat. Donna was born in Lynchburg VA on Sept. 14, 1950. Educated in the Lynchburg Public School System, she graduated from Goucher College in 1972, and did postgraduate work at Brown University. After teaching high school briefly in Boston MA, she relocated to Harrisonburg VA upon being hired by the Daily News-Record. Her journalistic prowess brought her to the attention of the newspaper’s owner, U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr., who recruited her as a legislative aide. She subsequently held a similar position for Congressman Jim Olin. In the mid 1980’s, seeking new adventures, Donna entered William and Mary Law School, received her degree, was accepted to the Virginia Bar, and returned to Lynchburg to practice law at the firm of Davidson and Sakalosky. Ultimately, she was unable to resist the lure of her family’s business, which was also her principal client; she moved across Main Street to a permanent office at Schewel Furniture Company. In 1993 she met and married retired school administrator Gary Clark. Not content to savor their later years in peaceful solitary companionship, the seasoned newlyweds rescued, adopted, and raised to maturity two beautiful children, Jordan and Julie. While Jordan charmed adults and peers alike with his passionate independence and warmhearted sincerity, Julie blossomed into a championship tennis player, bringing her mother much joy as they traveled the Mid-Atlantic tournament circuit together. In spite of her business and family commitments, Donna found time to contribute her wisdom and energy to a host of community organizations, including the Agudath Sholom Congregation, the YWCA Domestic Violence Prevention Center, New Vistas School, and the Virginia Legal Aid Society. She was a founding board member of the Bank of the James, and embraced the challenges of nurturing this nascent enterprise from gestation to market prominence. During her twenty-year tenure at Schewel Furniture Company, Donna was involved in every facet of its operation, including legal issues, lease negotiation, property management, insurance, risk control, strategic direction, human resources, and oversight of key executives. Her persistent attention to detail and intuitive ability to evaluate individuals and analyze problems were critical to the company’s ongoing success. She was a collaborative leader, but never flinched from making the difficult, controversial, yet unfailingly correct decision. But beyond her business acumen, it was her compassionate nature, generous spirit, pleasant demeanor, and moral fortitude that earned her the enduring love and respect of the company’s five hundred employees. More than a boss or coworker, she was a friend and confidante, an empathetic listener and a sensitive counselor, whose door was always open to anyone with a personal or professional problem. The family wishes to extend special thanks to the nurses at Centra Hospice for their assistance and responsiveness, to Donna’s three caregivers, Beverly Horsley, Sheena Horsley, and Betty Thompson for their attentiveness and comfort, and to a special friend, Liz Piasecki, for her constant devotion. Donna will be buried at a private graveside service. A celebration of her life will be observed on Wednesday, May 20th, at 11 AM at the Agudath Sholom Synagogue. For anyone wishing to honor the life of this remarkable woman, please consider a gift to the newly-established Schewel Foundation, c/o Marc Schewel, P.O. Box 6120, Lynchburg VA 24505. Tharp Funeral Home, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences please visit

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Tharp Funeral Home - Lynchburg
220 Breezewood Drive
Lynchburg, VA 24502
(434) 237-9424
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Published in Bedford Bulletin from May 20 to May 21, 2015
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