Marilyn Ann Clark: A brilliant mind and a beautiful life
Arlington – Marilyn Ann Clark, 85, a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and aunt, died April 25, 2017.
The memorial service is Saturday at 10 am at Rush Creek Christian Church in Arlington.
She was born Marilyn Marshall and raised in east Fort Worth. Her parents, Clara Mae and Luther Marshall, were farmers from Comanche, Texas. They moved to Fort Worth where Luther worked at the main Post Office downtown. Right before the Great Depression they bought a modest brick home on View Street. They became the original urban farmers. They had a dairy cow and some chickens, along with pecan, apricot, pear and peach trees. And they plowed an adjacent vacant lot into an organic garden of corn, okra, squash, beans, tomatoes and blackberries — and mint for ice tea.
Marilyn’s character was forged in this environment. As a child, she would sit in the branches of the pecan tree and pretend it was a sailing ship. Her parents had little money but tremendous self-sufficiency and generosity. Marilyn recalled that when hobos knocked on the door her parents would always find something for them to do in exchange for food. A struggling widowed mother who came to their home selling Spirella corsets door-to-door was invited in for lunch. She left with sacks of garden vegetables along with a corset order. She became a lifelong family friend and bought Marilyn her cherished first Bible.
Marilyn remembered listening to news of the Pearl Harbor attack on the radio as a child. It was an especially tough day for the family as she had two brothers, Luther and Bryan, who were much older than her and they knew they would be called to serve in a war.
She graduated at the top of her class from Polytechnical High School. She married Raymond Clark and they raised four children in east Fort Worth. When her children were all in Meadowbrook Elementary School, Marilyn enrolled in the University of Texas at Arlington. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish, making all A’s. She was creative and still found time to make occasional, one-of-a-kind treasures for her kids, like hand-sewn dresses for Barbie dolls, a panda bear costume for Halloween, and birthday cakes that she custom-decorated according to each child’s particular interests.
She taught English and Spanish at Southwest High School for more than 25 years before retiring. Among her favorite students were new immigrants, fleeing war and other hardships and learning English for the first time. She saved all of the thank-you letters that they wrote her.
After their children left the nest, Marilyn and Raymond built their dream home on an acre-and-a-half of land bordering Arlington and Kennedale. They designed the home themselves, complete with a sweeping front porch, trimmed with Texas stars. They enjoyed entertaining their children and grandchildren, visiting with neighbors, bird watching and gardening. They also loved riding a bicyle built for two.
A healthy diet and fitness were two of her defining characteristics. She and Raymond often dined at Red Lobster by the Parks Mall. They always asked for Pat the waitress, who catered to her special orders for broiled fish — no butter — and salad with no dressing, oil-and-vinegar and lemon on the side. Marilyn was an avid practitioner of Tai Chi and worked out at the Cooper Street YMCA.
She was a prize-winning poet and a regular attendee of the annual Beall Poetry Festival in Waco, Texas, where she made many dear friends and hob-nobbed with literary “rock stars” like Billy Collins.
Beneath Marilyn’s low-key, modest demeanor was a brilliant mind. She was exceedingly honest and devoted most of her life to caring for, and about, others. Even during her descent into dementia, and all the traumas that entailed, she maintained her gracious, caring spirit.
In lieu of flowers gifts can be made to Rush Creek Christian Church with Marilyn Clark Memorial in the memo line: 2401 SW Green Oaks Blvd Arlington, Texas, 76017.
She is survived by her four children: Gary Clark and his wife Susan, Debbie Clark, Carol Clark and Jim Clark and his wife Susie; grandchildren Aubrey Clark Gibbs and her husband Mark, Yvon Gore, Matthew Clark and wife, Danielle, and Meagan Clark; great-grandchildren Clara and Georgia Gibb and Tai and Galilea Gore; and her brother Luther Marshall II.