Clark Tait Brown died at his home in Chico in the company of family on Monday, February 4, 2019. He was 83.
Clark was born on December 27, 1935, in New York City, to Clark and Winifred Brown. After his father's early death in 1945, Clark moved with his mother and sister to San Francisco. He attended Lincoln High and then matriculated to UC Berkeley where he received a master's in English and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He was also a member of the Golden Bears Pappy's Boys, where he played football for the legendary Pappy Waldorf. It was at Berkeley that he met Noël Doyle, his loving wife of 53 years.
An avid traveler, he treasured summers at his grandfather's ranch in Ovando, Montana, as well as time in France, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris; Spain, where he ran with the bulls in Pamplona; and Switzerland, where he summited the Matterhorn. He later taught in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Clark was the author of the novel The Disciple (1968) and two collections of stories and essays, About Chico (1998) and Down in the Valley (2009). His writing appeared in numerous publications, and he was a recipient of the Pushcart Prize and a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and Chico News and Review.
For over thirty years, Clark was a professor of English literature and creative writing at Chico State where he received numerous honors, including the Outstanding Professor Award. He was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, Princeton and Stanford, where he was a recipient of the Wallace Stegner Fellowship.
He was an elegant dance partner and a kind, considerate man, who also possessed a sly, deadpan wit. He was not, however, likely to resist a pun. He once wrote that he found "pleasure in the simplest things—scorching a softball base hit, nailing a forehand in tennis, and reading at sundown with a glass of wine."
He was a loving father and grandfather, always present for camping expeditions, baseball games, basketball tournaments, rugby matches, body surfing at Stinson Beach, trampoline injuries, dance recitals, trips to the emergency room, and much more.
He prized his lifelong friendships with fraternity brothers of the Phi Kappa Psi house and colleagues at Chico State.
Clark is survived by his wife, Noël; his sons, Scott (Christi) and Tom (Chizzie); daughters, Liz and Holly; grandchildren, Patrick, Colin, Jacqueline and Jason Brown; and nieces, Sara, Antonia and Lulu Rolland. His beloved younger sister, Barbara Rolland, predeceased him in 2012.
A private burial service for Clark was held at St Mary Magdalene Mission Church in Bolinas, California, on February 12, 2019, and a memorial service is planned for March 15, 2019, at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Chico at 10:00 am. Arrangements are under the direction of Brusie Funeral Home
When asked about his work, Clark once said, "I am interested in people trying to transcend themselves beyond ordinary reality." He did this in his own life and his writing.
In his essay "Church Going," he writes," "Walking back to the car, I saw the stars as I have seen them in Vina on other Christmas Eves but as you never see them in Chico or San Francisco. I saw thousands upon thousands, the way you see those flakes of silver in the high Sierra or at the ocean on those rare nights when no fog blows in."
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 26 to Mar. 3, 2019.