Willie Russell Clark
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October 10, 1919 ~ February 22, 2012
PEBBLE BEACH - Willie Russell Clark, 92, was born October 10, 1919 to Charlie and Icie Russell in rural Speedwell, Tennessee. She was born at home near her family gristmill, and she attended a one-room schoolhouse during her elementary school years. At the age of 13, in an event that presaged her lifelong interest in numbers, Willie received the highest score ever recorded on a statewide mathematics test in Claiborne County, Tennessee. After her family purchased a hotel in nearby LaFollette, Willie moved into the hotel with her family. She was active in her church and graduated from LaFollette High School. Willie matriculated at Virginia Intermont College for Women (VIC) where she was an outstanding scholar athlete, captain of both the Varsity Basketball and Tennis Teams and also played hockey and soccer.
After earning an Associate's Degree, she enrolled in the University of Tennessee where she completed her Bachelor's Degree in Business and Accounting in 1942. Following her graduation, Willie worked as an accountant until she married William Winfield Clark, a Civil Engineer working for the Tennessee Valley Authority, whom she met when he was staying at her family's hotel.
Part of the great westward migration in the late 40s and 50s, Willie and Bill were married in Santa Barbara, California and eventually settled on the Monterey Peninsula where they raised their four children. Active in school and community organizations, Willie was a Girl Scout leader and also served as president of The Mother's Club of Carmel Mission School. She volunteered to tutor school children in mathematics and also volunteered to assist people in the preparation of their tax returns. Radiating hospitality and openness rooted in her rural Southern upbringing, Willie established lasting friendships with many, including friends of Japanese and German backgrounds at a time when the Second World War led many to treat such individuals with suspicion or hostility. Willie was an avid and lifelong bridge player, becoming a recognized champion at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
In their later years Mrs. Clark and her husband of 60 years split their time between their home in Pebble Beach and their treasured second home in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they established many friendships in Western Virginia and North Carolina. Willie Clark never knew a stranger. If you were one of the ones that she fed, treated, laughed with, lucky you. She was a real spark of a person who will be missed by new friends and old who became a part of her family.
Mrs. Clark is survived by her four children: Dr. Michael Clark (Ranjana), Dr. Michele Clark (Donna Johnson), Dr. Sandra Clark-Lewis (Philip) and Patrick Clark (Regina). She is also survived by her beloved niece, Dr. Candace Boselli Hodgkins (Fred) who spent many of her childhood summers with the family. Her two grandchildren, Ben and Meera were especially important to her. Mrs. Clark was also very close to her surviving nieces and nephews who live around the country. The family expresses their gratitude to the team of caregivers who contributed to the quality of Willie's life and whose care extended her life: Lydia Brill, Ludy Pasking, Lerma Fecha, Marita Aleto and Luz Soriano.
Services will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn, Alabama on Saturday, March 3, 2012, at 10:00am. Interment will follow in Town Creek Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be held prior to the service at 9:00am until the funeral hour. In lieu of flowers, Willie requested that donations and memorials be given to the Auburn University Foundation William Winfield Clark Civil Engineering Scholarship Fund (AU Foundation, 317 S. College Street, Auburn, AL 36849, Memo Line: Clark Scholarship) or to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 100 Church Drive, Auburn, AL 36830.
Published in The Monterey Herald from Feb. 28 to Mar. 1, 2012