Obituary of John Clark
John and Marilyn Clark were both born and raised in the state of Washington, ultimately spending their entire lives in Pierce County. John was born in Tacoma to parents Jeanette (Paul) and Ed Ragsdale July 6, 1921, and lovingly raised by Patrick and Catherine Clark. Marilyn was born November 17, 1920 on McNeil Island to parents Jennie (Holm) and Charles Savage. She was the granddaughter of John Holm, a Washington State Pioneer and Ezra Savage, former Nebraska Governor and signer of Tacoma’s City Charter. Marilyn was extremely proud of her family history.
Marilyn was the youngest of three daughters and was raised on McNeil Island and lived there until her older sister graduated from the one room school on the island, at which time they relocated to Tacoma so her sister could continue her education. The family maintained their island home and would return on weekends and each summer. Marilyn considered her childhood and the time spent on the island as the best possible life a young girl could have. Unfortunately, that came to an end in 1936 when the Federal Government forced the islanders to surrender their homes and move off the island. The Savages purchased property on Clover Creek in Brookdale and that became their new retreat.
John and Marilyn met at Lincoln High School in 1937. John was on the “Abes” Football Team and Marilyn was a majorette. They were almost inseparable after their first date. Marilyn attended the University of Washington after graduation and John attended the College of Puget Sound. They married in January 1942, and not long after John was drafted into the Army. After basic training, he was sent to Africa and was severely injured when a jeep went off a mountainous road and landed on him, breaking both of his legs. He spent most of the remainder of his enlistment in various hospitals in Europe and the U. S.
Upon his discharge, John returned to Tacoma to complete his education. Like so many other men, John took advantage of the GI Bill and graduated from Pacific Lutheran College in 1949 and began teaching at Stewart Jr. High. Marilyn, a busy housewife with three young daughters, began to complete her education, taking a few classes at a time until she completed her degree in 1957 at P.L.C. She began teaching 2nd grade at Larchmont and later at Birney Elementary where she remained until retiring in 1982. Having completed his Master’s degree, John became an administrator for Tacoma School District and was principal at Baker, Mason, and Stewart Jr. Highs before retiring in 1979. John and Marilyn were highly regarded by their peers and students, and together positively touched and shaped the lives of countless student in the Tacoma area.
John built their home where they would raise their family and spend almost their entire marriage on a plot of land given to them by Marilyn’s folks on Clover Creek. With the addition of a wonderful swimming pool in the 1960’s, it became the center of all activities for the Clarks and their extended families. It was lovingly referred to as ‘Nan and Pop’s’ once they became grandparents.
John and Marilyn enjoyed a variety of activities during their 73 years of marriage. John was an avid hunter, fisherman, and golfer. He was a member at Brookdale Golf Club, as well as being a Charter Member of the SE Lions Club and Member of the Tacoma Elks. Marilyn, who was a fantastic cook and hostess, enjoyed entertaining family and friends and loved a good card game and playing Bunko. Their love of dancing resulted in their membership in several local dance clubs. They also had a passion for travel and were able to visit much of the U.S., Mexico, Europe, the South Pacific Islands, and Australia. Marilyn took pleasure in later years in working on family history projects, and with her niece Raylene Pressley, compiled a “Holm Family History.” She composed a McNeil Island Directory for the families of former island residents and was instrumental in arranging an annual picnic for the McNeil Island homesteaders and their families each summer.
John and Marilyn were preceded in death by Marilyn’s sisters, Shirley Fadness and Jean Bartley; their beloved daughter, Lynn Clark Wharton; and grandson, Justin Grams.
They are survived by daughters, Cheryl (Dave) Fahrenbach and Lou Ann (Randy) Grams; son-in-law, Mike Wharton; grandchildren, Cara (Reed) Moore, Wendy Wharton, Amy Wharton, and Diedre (Chris) Conant; great grandchildren, Cooper, Miller, Sebastian, Lucy, Eden, and Amara. Also surviving are nieces and nephews, Raylene (Tom) Pressley, Shirlene O’Grady, Charles (Gail) Bartley, Harry Bartley, Jenesi (Mike) Talbert; and numerous great and great-great nieces and nephews. John is also survived by half sister and brother, Donna (Kevin) Hopman and Daniel Ragsdale.
At the request of John and Marilyn, a private service will be held for family members with a Celebration of Life to be held at a later date.
The family wishes to thank Russ Haimanot of 1st Care Adult Family Home Care and staff for the excellent care of John and Marilyn over the last several years.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in memory of John and Marilyn (Savage) Clark to the Lincoln High School Alumni Scholarship Fund, 701 S. 37th St, Tacoma WA 98418.
Please go to www.newtacoma.com to sign the guestbook.