Deceased June 18, 2013
“Once your friend, he was your friend for life.” That thought from Spike Schellenger ’53 reflects how most of our class felt about Jim Clark, who passed away peacefully from lung cancer June 18, 2013, at his home near Albany, N.Y.—less than three weeks after he and his wife, Rhea, attended our 60th Reunion at Amherst. Whether you were mesmerized by Jim’s clarinet and alto sax wizardry with The Delta Five ... or proudly wore a monographed sweatshirt or other item donated by Jim at past ’53 reunions … or bought a car from him during his near-lifelong executive career at Armory Garage, Inc. in Albany, N.Y. (now Armory Automotive) … or simply enjoyed his enthusiasm and personality, Jim was a real presence at Amherst and in our class. Not just a brilliant musician. But a real and loyal friend to all who knew him.
Who else could counter classmate Bill Banks’ news of a blind date at Wellesley with “Let’s drive over and meet her.” And so they did. A good thing. That blind date is now Sally Banks, Bill’s wife for some 60 years.
Besides Rhea, Jim’s wife since 1968, he is survived by four children, nine grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and in-laws. A memorial service and Mass of Christian Burial were held at Pius X Church in Loudonville, N.Y., with a high percentage of Jim’s area friends there, including the Archbishop of Albany and people from most of the many organizations he served voluntarily over the years.
A member of Psi Upsilon and an Economics major, Jim came to Amherst from the Milne School in Albany. Our senior class marshall, he was in the first wave of ’53 graduates to complete U.S. Navy OCS, commissioned in early 1954 to serve as Engineering Officer on the USS Fulmer, a wooden minesweeper out of Yorktown, Va. After the navy, it was back to Armory Garage management and decades of magical gigs with jazz trios in the Albany area.
But make no mistake: To us, Jim Clark’s name was and is synonymous with The Delta Five and the supremely-talented ’53 classmates who backed him up—Bill Pritchard, Bill Youngren, Ed Bonoff, Joe Benge and others, including John Bucher ’52, reportedly still playing with Woody Allen in Manhattan. The Delta Five waslegendary—whether playing at the Sportsmen’s Club in our Amherst days or on their famous 1951 and 1952 summer trips through Europe and beyond. In 2002, they played together at Amherst for the first time in over 50 years. Better than ever, most thought.
Philip W. Ransom Jr. ’53