Tom Clark, 75, passed away Sunday April 7, 2019, at the Albany Medical Center. He was born July 29, 1943 in Utica to Marion E. Randall and Joseph T. Clark.
Tom cherished his time spent on the family farm in Gouverneur, and being with his extended family, especially his cousins Steve, Bill, and Helena.
He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Montclair State College, where he studied industrial arts education and geology. As Tom was raised to be a person who gives more than he gets, teaching was his natural profession. He taught industrial arts and helped lead school bands and musicals at several schools in New Jersey before moving to the Lake Placid area in the 1970s.
Tom was introduced to Camp Treetops and North Country School by a colleague, Dick Wilde, and so began his long and influential relationship with this community. Tom worked at Camp Treetops from 1966 to 1983 and then again from 1996 to 2018. He taught earth science and was a beloved houseparent at North Country School from 1971 to 1982, returning in 2001 to continue teaching until his tragic death. In addition to his passions for teaching, woodworking, and music, Tom was a talented and avid photographer. He was part of the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee team of photographers that documented the activities, events and sports prior to and through the 1980 Winter Olympics, an experience he relished.
In early 1981, Tom met the love of his life, Alison Riley, at Camp Treetops. After their marriage in June of 1983, the Clarks settled in South Strafford, Vermont, where Tom got right to work renovating their old barn, creating vegetable gardens, and building a huge deck. He was a member of the United Church of Strafford, served on the board of directors for the Creative Preschool, and taught skiing in the Newton School and Lions Club ski program while helping to maintain the local rope tow. Tom worked for Harrington Engineering for many years and then, from 1995 to 2013, for the RHI/Rural Community Assistance Program as a water resources specialist, helping Vermont, New Hampshire and New York communities (including Lake Placid and Wilmington) obtain clean drinking water. In 2002, the Clark family moved to Lake Placid, building Tom’s dream house down the road from the camp and school. Tom rejoined the school faculty, teaching photography, woodworking, music lessons, and horseback riding. In recent years he also served as the school photographer, documenting daily student life for social media. Tom was a tireless hiker (an Adirondack 46er many times over); he loved to cross-country ski, canoe, ski Whiteface, walk his dog, and just be in the mountains. Above all, Tom loved his family. Tom was a devoted husband to Alison for thirty-six years and a fabulous father to Emily, Brenden and Stephen.
Not long ago, Karen Culpepper, the director of Camp Treetops, wrote in an article about Tom:
“With his gentle spirit and natural teaching ability, Tom inspires a quiet confidence in children and adults alike. He has educated counselors on the meticulous rituals of opening and closing Camp for decades. Erecting and taking down the classic Treetops’ yellow canvas tents, for example, requires much instruction at first, and Tom has always been happy to mentor counselors through the process. This past summer, when Tom noticed that the woodshop needed new steps, he simply got to work. Rather than calling for Camp maintenance staff, he gathered several campers from the woodshop and together the group built the required steps. Simply put – if something needs to be done, Tom is there. When asked what it is that has kept him at Camp Treetops for nearly 50 summers, Tom replies: ‘This place always feels like you never left. It always feels like coming home – the sounds and the smells and how everything looks. The place hasn’t changed. Like most people, I have a deep yearning for the stability of a place like that.’ Tom is an important part of what makes Treetops the bedrock of so many lives, as solid and comforting as the ancient mountains beneath us.”
Tom is survived by his wife Alison and their children Emily, Brenden and Stephen. In addition, he is survived by his brother Bob, sister-in law Marie, niece Kristin Schwenk, nephews Gregory and Daniel, and grand-nieces Julianne and Emma; his cousins Steve and Bill Randall and Helena Pate; in-laws John and AC Riley, sister-in-law Susan and husband Evan Shelby, nephew Dylan, and brother-in-law Kagan Wolfe.
Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. Calling hours will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25. A funeral service will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Adirondack Community Church in Lake Placid with the Rev. Derek Hanson officiating.
Family and Friends can make memorial contributions to Camp Treetops or North Country School in care of the funeral home. Family and friends can share their memories at fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com. You can also share your condolences and memories at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tomclark5.