Mr. Vernon Ray Clark, 81, of Bartlesville, died at 5:25 P.M. on Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at the Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville.
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Vernon Ray Clark was born in McPherson, Kansas, on May 5, 1932 to Martin Joel Clark and Laura Evelyn Wann Clark. He was the fifth of six children.
The Clarks lived on a farm near Galva, Kansas, about 12 miles NE of McPherson. Vernon went to Good Hope School, a country school for grade school, and he graduated from Galva High School in 1949. He was raised and confirmed in the nearby New Gottland Covenant Church.
Vernon's father died when Vernon was twelve years old. His older brother was already out and on his own leaving much of the farming responsibility to Vernon as the oldest son still at home. Fortunately, Galva was a tight knit community made up of many families of Swedish descent, most being related to each other, so the community was very supportive of Vernon and the Clark family as a whole. Not knowing exactly what needed to be done to manage a farm, several neighbors mentored Vernon. One neighbor would hire him to plow in his field while he ate lunch so that Vernon could earn a little bit of money. The school authorities were also very responsive to his needs and allowed Vernon to miss school at times to attend to the family farm. Times were tough; his mother sold eggs in town every Saturday morning and Vernon and his siblings all pitched it to make ends meet.
Soon after high school, Vernon was drafted into the Army. He served in the Korean War at Camp Fuji, Japan, servicing tanks for combat troops in Korea. He served from February, 1953 through February, 1955, and rose to the rank of Sergeant before receiving his honorable discharge.
Vernon met his future wife, Donna Marlene Alexander, at a Good Hope School PTA meeting while still in high school. In those days, school functions were community events where the whole community attended. Donna's father played the guitar in the country band performing for this function. Vernon and Donna were married in the Methodist Church in Galva, Kansas on May 5, 1955.
Thanks to the GI Bill, Vernon was able to attend college. He went to McPherson College as a freshman and then transferred to Kansas State in Manhattan. He graduated with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering in 1958.
Vernon and Donna moved often in the early years of their marriage. Vernon's first job brought the young couple to Hawthorne, CA where Vernon was part of a Nortronics team developing the Snark missile from 1959 to 1961. Wanting to get closer to home, he returned to Kansas to work for General Dynamics in Salina commissioning Atlas missile silos for two years. When this job finished it was on to Huntsville, Alabama for two years where he worked for Chrysler Aerospace with Wernher von Braun, the well-known German scientist known as the "Father of Rocket Science". This team worked in the infancy of rocketry. They were contracted with the NASA space program and Vernon design electronic systems that were a part of the early Saturn rockets that later brought astronauts to the moon. Again, wanting to get back closer to their Kansas "home", Vernon landed a job with Phillips Petroleum Company in 1965 that brought them to Bartlesville, OK. He worked for Phillips designing refinery automation systems and later seismic oil exploration equipment. Vernon retired in 1986, and during his working career Vernon received five U.S. Patents.
After retirement, Vernon and Donna owned and operated a nursery, "Plantland" in Bartlesville for ten years.
In the past, Vernon has been active in the Astronomy Club, Ham Radio Operators club and very interested in tracing his family genealogy.
Vernon and Donna were part of a group that started Bartlesville Bible Church. Vernon earned a Ministerial Degree from Tulsa Seminary of Biblical Languages in the early 80's, and most recently Vernon was a member of the First Baptist Church in Dewey, Oklahoma.
Survivors include his wife, Donna, of 58 years; his son, Kevin and wife Dawn, their children Aaron and Ryan of Minnesota; his son, Keith and wife Dela, their children, Skylor, Caleb and Achsah of Bartlesville; their daughter, Kayla and her husband Clark Ludahl and her children Rachael, Karissa and Robyn of Washington state; also several great grandchildren; his siblings Norma Ruth Coughenour, Lois Roth, and James Clark. Also surviving are numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Martin and Laura Clark; one daughter Kyanna Clark; one brother, Warren Clark; and one sister, Aleda Kaiser.
A memorial fund in lieu of flowers has been established and those who wish may send their contributions to Teen Challenge, P.O. Box 8177, Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, 71819. Or wwwteenchallengear.org.
Memorial services will be held at 10:30 A.M. Monday at the First Baptist Church in Dewey with Pastor Mark Wright officiating. Services in Kansas will be held at 10 A.M. on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at the New Gottland Covenant Church in Galva, Kansas. Cremation arrangements were under the direction of the Stumpff Funeral Home & Crematory in Bartlesville.
Friends who wish may sign the online guest book and leave condolences at www.stumpff.org.
Stumpff Funeral Home & Crematory
1600 Southeast Washington Boulevard Bartlesville, OK 74006
Published in Examiner-Enterprise from Dec. 29, 2013 to Jan. 28, 2014