In Memory

Eugene E. Clark - Class Of 1964 VIEW PROFILE

Eugene E. Clark

Eugene Edward Clark (May 16, 1946 - December 22, 2017) peacefully passed away in San Diego, California from cancer, surrounded by his beloved wife and all of his living children. He was our father, grandfather, husband, and our teacher. Gene was born in Vale, Oregon to Gene and Viola Clark. The family, with his three sisters, Lynne '58, Leslie '61, and Stefanie '69, moved to South Pasadena where he spent most of his youth. He graduated from SPHS where he was a star football player and record breaking runner on the track team. He served for two years in the Central America Mission before entering Brigham Young University on a track scholarship. He left with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Geology and went on to earn a Geology PhD at University College in London.

On a blind date to Disneyland, he met his cherished wife of 47 years, Joanne Johnson '63. They were married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1970. Over the next 13 years the couple welcomed six children into their home. To them he was always known as 'Poppie'. They raised their children in Houston, Texas, Surrey, England, and Lehi, Utah. As a devoted father, he taught his children to appreciate the Earth, to enjoy both academics and athletics, to love each other, and most of all, to serve God. He spent the first part of his professional career as a Petroleum Exploration Geologist for Exxon. In this, Gene was a veritable explorer, making trips to over 100 countries including frequent treks into remote deserts, jungles, and plains in Jordan, Iran, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo, and others. In 1992 he walked away from a successful post as Senior Geophysicist at Exxon to pursue his passion for teaching. For the next 20 years, he served as an inspiring and devoted teacher of physics and earth sciences at Mountain View High School. He lead scores of enriching student trips to Costa Rica. The countless hours he spent preparing famously spectacular object lessons, Mr Clark gave more to his students than was ever required or asked. He later taught in the Geology Department at Brigham Young University but his heart was teaching high school science. The passion he brought to the subject and his ability to captivate an audience, left an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of his students. He was the master of his craft.

Even those closet to Gene may not have known that he was also called upon by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to act as a covert agent in conjunction with his worldwide petroleum exploration work. The journals he kept of his CIA activity (which he honorably kept to himself for the requisite 20-year classification period) read like an international spy novel. This only-recently declassified dimension of Gene adds a fascinating additional layer of color and intrigue to a life already full of depth and diversity. Gene was a man of diverse interests. He took on nothing if it could not be done with his full focus and investment. He was an omnivorous reader, dividing his time between science-fiction, history, science, mysteries, and the classics. He was a silver screen savant more familiar with a young Bogart, Grant, or Crawford than with any of today's stars. An avid outdoorsman from his youth, he was an experienced camper, prolific hiker, fisher, and outdoor chef. Over several decades he found peace in maintaining his impressive living collection of award-winning Bonsai trees. He was a builder of things, including his own home in Lehi, Utah.

As a member of the LDS church, he served as Branch President, Bishop, as a counselor in the Houston, Texas Mission, Spanish speaking, and as a teacher in various capacities. He spent five of his 71 years of life on full-time missions for the Church. Two years in Central America as a youth, and two more with his wife in the San Jose, Costa Rica Mission from 2012-2014, and again with Joanne in the Neuquen, Argentina Mission from 2016 until being brought home to treat his brain cancer in April 2017.

Mr, Brother, Dr, Elder, Bishop, Agent, Poppie, Uncle, Professor - Gene Clark will be deeply missed. In life he was a gentleman and a scholar. In death he is our inspiration to be people of faith, purpose, and strength. Survived by his wife, Joanne; five children:  Sarah, Reuben, Emily, Jesse, and David; and 18 grandchildren. Preceded in death by his son Ehren.

Salt Lake Tribune, January 12, 2018

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12/23/17 06:42 PM #1    

Bill Sampson (1964)

My lifelong friend and classmate Gene Clark, SPHS '64, passed away yesterday morning, 12/22/17, in Encinitas, CA.  I've been informed that he died peacefully, surrounded by his family.  
Jim Beebe, '64, Bob Podlech '64 and I visited with him about a month ago and a couple other times earlier this year.  We had a chance to say goodbye and are glad, to a man, that we took the time to make the trips and share some time with him.
A couple years ago Jim and I and our wives and Gene's wife Joanne were escorted through the geological wonders of Southern Utah by Gene, a geology professor.  (Bob took a tumble on his bicycle and broke his arm and couldn't go but took a similar trip a year or so later).  I cherish that memory of Gene in his element.  His passport had been stamped in over 100 countries by then.  He did several missions for his church and was brought home due to his final illness while serving on what turned out to be his last.  I'm honored he called me friend.  That he was.  
Bill Sampson '64

12/24/17 05:21 AM #2    

David Wright (1964)

Thanks Bill for your rememberance of Gene.


12/24/17 12:31 PM #3    

Randy R Willett (1964)

I was not in So. Pas for very long and only knew Gene through sports so really appreciated Bill's comments, Thank you Bill for remembering!!


12/25/17 09:23 AM #4    

Robin Lane Estey (Sabersky) (1964)

Bill, what a nice tribute to your friend, Gene!  I so enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading about his life... so full, so accomplished!  And a lovely family ... my heart goes out to all of them!  No matter what our backgrounds were in high school, nor whom we hung out with ... we were, and still are, all connected to this wonderful town we grew up in, So. Pas.  And in school, we really did “know” everyone!!  It was a youth well lived and experienced.  Im so sorry for the loss of a good friend!

12/26/17 07:41 AM #5    

Noelle Price (Deinken) (1964)

I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of Gene. Bill, that was a wonderful tribute and remembrance about him. He was my neighbor and I remember how nice he was to everyone. They were/are a great family and my heart goes out to his family and to all who will miss him.

12/28/17 11:31 AM #6    

Robert Podlech (1964)

I, of course, could not know the future when I first met Gene Clark through our mutual friend Jim Beebe. We were boys nearing the end of the eighth grade at South Pasadena Junior High. I didn’t know then that a friendship would bloom that would literally last a lifetime. This was a friendship that took us through our teen years and into adulthood and beyond. From baseball to body surfing to camping in the High Sierras. We did it all. Remember Gene’s Chevy convertible?  Oh, the adventures that we all had together in that car!!  Later we started families about the same time. For years we laughed that my daughter Brooke was born on the very day that Gene bought his beloved Toyota truck. He was always so proud of that truck and he kept it all  these years!  There were periods of separation, but somehow, when our birthday came around we would usually reconnect.  Did you know that we share the same birthday? Well, we were certainly not twins but brothers just the same. There are so more adventures in our lives that I can not possibly list them all.  Just since the year 2000 there has been two great trips to the wilds of Costa Rica, the country he loved so much.  I’ll never forget our hikes at Arenal.  In 2015 I had a great trip with Gene and Joanne to Southern Utah and the Grand Canyon.  During  the last 10 years I  found  a renewed closeness to Gene through Gene and Joanne‘s visits to see Ruben and Emily here in Northern California. I had the strong feeling that in the coming years we would see more and more of one another!! To my great sadness, this is not to be.  No, we could not know the future in 1960 and I could not have known the future a year ago.  I’ll cherish the 57 odd years we shared. I’ll remember how much I have been inspired by this man to be better person myself.  I miss him terribly. But now it’s time to say goodbye. My thoughts and prayers are with him and with the entire Clark family.


Addendum:  I was also able to attend Gene's funeral in Lehi, UT on January 13, 2018.  It was a very moving and significant day to remember Gene and to be with his family.  Jim Beebe and Bill Sampson met up with me and we attended together.  There was a great display of memorabilia from Gene's life that touched me very deeply as it brought back so many memories.  The day was cool but clear.  Gene's final resting place is next to his son Ehren in Lehi, with the snow capped mountains of Utah all around.  


Bob Podlech

01/14/18 08:29 PM #7    

James Beebe (1964)

If you have read this far into the Memory page about Gene, you know he was a wonderful and brilliant human being who accomplished more in his life than most of us can ever conceive of doing.  But what I want to say here is what my friendship with Gene meant to me.

I moved to SoPas in eighth grade and unlike most other kids in SoPas, I didn’t know a soul or have a friend.  That is until I ran into Gene and he immediately took me under his wing and became my best friend.  I didn’t know at the time that this would be a lifelong friendship until the very moment he passed away.   I loved him like a brother and I believe he loved me like the brother he didn’t have.  Gene was a gifted athlete even in 8th grade and I was a total klutz.  But he had the patience and persistence to help learn and play sports like football, basketball, and baseball.  I spent many afternoons after school sitting on his couch watching Soupy Sales and howl with laughter.  Along with Bill Sampson and Bob Podlech, we played doubles tennis in Garfield Park, game after game, until late in the evenings.  Or some evenings, Gene and I could be found sitting in front of a chess board playing marathon chess matches. 

We stayed in touch through college and during his first mission in Costa Rica in 1968-69 but didn’t have much contact until our 25th reunion in 1989 where we planned a camping trip into Sequoia National Park with Gene and his kids and their friends, along with the Sampson’s, Bob Podlech, and my family.  As we sat around the campfire and talked about our lives, it was as if no time had passed between us.  For that moment, we talked and laughed just like we did many times down in Gene’s basement bedroom there in So Pas.

Later in life, I had the opportunity to visit Gene and his wife Joanne in Costa Rica while they were on their first senior mission for the LDS church and Dr. Gene Clark, who had his doctorate in geophysics with a specialty in volcanism, spent four days with me and my wife, teaching us about the volcanoes of Costa Rica.  The following year, 2015, the Clark’s, the Sampson’s and myself and my wife, had a 7-day geologic tour that Gene dubbed the Southern Utah Expedition.   These are times with Gene that I will always cherish and remember.

After Gene was diagnosed in April of last year with Glioblastoma brain cancer, I visited Gene three times during his 9-month long battle with cancer along with Bob Podlech and Bill Sampson.  We were able each time to spend 1-2 days visiting him in the hospital and other medical facilities, last seeing him on December 1, just days before he passed on December 22nd.

I attended his funeral in Lehi, Utah on January 13, 2018 along with Gene’s family and at least another hundred people who Gene touched during his life and who came to honor and pay tribute to this remarkable man.  I feel truly blessed to have known Gene, his wife Joanne, his sisters Stefanie and Leslie, and his sons and daughters, as they are all incredible people just like Gene.  I will never forget Gene.  He will be my best friend forever and ever.  

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