James A. Clark Jr. '53

Deceased June 18, 2013

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50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

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

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50th Reunion

It seems incredible to me that 50 years have passed since leaving "Dear Old Amherst"! I'm reminded of Alexander King's book," A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Grave".

After graduation, like most of us, 1 went into the service. I graduated from Naval OCS in January, 1954 and ended up in Charleston, S.C. as engineering officer on a wooden minesweeper. (Iron men on wooden ships!) We were stationed in Yorktown, Va. at the school of mine warfare and promptly swept all of the mines in the York River-today, a very safe place!

After discharge from the Navy, 1 returned to Albany, NY and the automobile business selling DeSoto and Plymouth- neither of which are built today. We now sell Jeep, Chrysler, Nissan and Suzuki I am still working, but not very hard.

Doing things in reverse, I raced harness horses from 1959 until I married in 1966. I also had a race car when I was 27. At the age of 35 I married a fine, young girl named Rhea Picotte and promptly started a family. Our oldest, Kathleen Clark McNaull., lives in Seattle with her husband, Peter and son, Clark, who is expecting a sibling in January. James Clark ill lives in Osterville, Mass., is single and is in the construction business. Betsy Clark O'Haire lives in Troy, NY with her husband, Kevin and son, James Patrick, who also expects a sibling in 2003. Our youngest, Jeffrey, lives in SanDiego, Ca. Where he teaches high school English (Amazing!).

My health is relatively good. I have had back surgery three times in the last ten years, which negates the statement I used to make "a weak mind and a strong back". I am active in many civic and club organizations, which I enjoy- most of the time. We have a vacation home in Dorest, Vermont, where we spend not-enough time.

I returned to Amherst in May, 2002 at the request of John Bucher
"52. We had a reunion of the Delta Five- a Dixieland band that hadn't played together in 50 years. A crowd of over 300 enjoyed the concert. Bill Youngren, Ed Bonoff and Bill Pritchard - all class of'53 with Jim Harris '51 and Bucher '52 (and 2 ringer-friends of Bucber) played for over an hour to thunderous applause. We thought we played better than ever, although someone questioned our hearing!

All in all it has been a wonderful 50 years. I greatly miss my Psi U fraternity
brothers, Boehm, Collins, Connolly, Ostrander, McMullen and Monroe. I am sure glad that many of us are still on the green side of the grass!