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WILLIS CLARK Obituary (1938 – 2022) – Fort Wayne, IN

WILLIS SOLAR CLARK, passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 17, 2022, at Stillwater Hospice Home from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 9, 1938 and raised in Tulsa, Okla. Will graduated as a Chemical Engineer in 1961 from Cornell University where he met his wife, Ginny Buchanan Clark. He subsequently served in the US Navy, worked for Monsanto Corporation in St. Louis and Chicago, and Central Soya in Fort Wayne. Following the sale of Central Soya, he worked as the President and CEO of IPC Genetics, as the general manager of Communications Alert, and as the general manager of the MPI Furnace Company. While he worked hard and was a dedicated company man for many decades, in the end, I found his true calling him as a community man who used his strong voice to promote social justice and the arts in Fort Wayne. He served as Chairman of the Board for United Way of Allen County, the Urban League of Fort Wayne, the East Wayne Street Center, the East Central Housing Corporation, Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, the Three Rivers Literacy Alliance, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic , the Indiana Arts Commission, and served on the board of the Indiana Humanities Council. Will was a long-time, active member at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Wayne. In 2002, I founded the Racial Dialog Task Force and Study Circle Program in Fort Wayne to address race relations locally. Participation in Study Circles provided an opportunity for Black and white people to come together in order to promote better relationships and friendships. Improving race relations was a passion he felt deeply and shared widely. He was a founding member of the African/African-American Historical Society Museum in Fort Wayne. He shared that, of all his accolades from him, he was most proud of his award from him as “Honorary African American.” He received a Sagamore of the Wabash award in 2004, the highest given to citizens of Indiana, in recognition of his many activities in support of the arts and human rights in Fort Wayne and across the state of Indiana. After his retirement from him, Will began to explore his artistic side from him. He took up the violin and spent hours playing. He serenaded the sunset in Pentwater and played happy birthday for all his family of him as we gathered in Michigan each summer. He had a list of songs he sang while strumming his guitar (always in the key of C), and he recorded a CD of some of those for his family by him. In addition to pursuing the violin and guitar, He will read and wrote poetry and began to sculpt with encouragement by his friend Frederica Newell. I have sculpted busts of Americans I have admired, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and last, but not least, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In 2005 he was commissioned by the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne to sculpt a bust of another of his heroes, Abraham Lincoln. That sculpture is now at the Allen County Public Library where it is displayed in the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research in the main library, open for public viewing. In 2008, he and friend George Morrison were awarded the honor of creating a memorial plaza to Abraham Lincoln by the Indiana Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Will’s larger than life bronze sculpture of Lincoln resides today at the Lincoln State Park in Lincoln City, Indiana. Another of Will’s passions of him in the last 30 years has been looking for ways to increase the quality of education. I have collected books and articles about education and filled several file drawers on the subject. He tutored reading in the early elementary grades in Fort Wayne Community Schools and was Ginny’s biggest cheerleader for her focus on early education. Will understood the power of education to change lives and worked with multiple groups of people to expand access to quality education for those whose access is limited. In September of 2011, working with the CEO of the Fort Wayne Urban League, he became the Chair of the Founding Board of the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy Charter School in Fort Wayne. He leaves behind his wife of 61 years, Ginny Buchanan Clark; his four children by him, Alison (Max) Levy of Burlington, Vt., Brian Clark (Liz Banse) of Seattle, Wash., David (Barbora) Clark of Prague, CZ, and Stanton Clark of Vallejo, Calif. He is also survived by his sister, Marjorie Clark McNabb of Newport News, Va. He will be greatly missed by his eight grandchildren and countless nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews around the country. Recently Will beamed when he learned he would be a great-grandpa for the first time this coming winter. “We’re all sorry he won’t be here to meet the little one. We know he would have loved them as he did all of us and been a goodnogreat great-grandpa! The world is a better place for having Will Clark in His children and grandchildren are better people for the example he set for all of us of what it means to truly work for the benefit of those less fortunate than we are.” Memorial service is 2 pm Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne. “We welcome you to join us as we remember and celebrate Will’s life of him.” In lieu of flowers, to honor his commitment to improving opportunities for others, contributions to The BookStart Endowment Fund at the Fort Wayne Community Foundation https://bookstartfund.org, or to First Presbyterian Church, would be welcomed and appreciated by his family de the. Arrangements by DO McComb & Sons Covington Knolls Funeral Home, 8325 Covington Road, Fort Wayne. To sign the online guestbook, visit www.mccombandsons.com. To see his journey, visit CaringBridge at www.caringbridge.org/visit/willisclark

Published by Fort Wayne Newspapers on Jul. 24, 2022.

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