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Ethan Baker Clark

September 22, 1980 January 18, 2020
Ethan Baker Clark
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Obituary for Ethan Baker Clark

Ethan Baker Clark, 39, artist, writer, disc jockey, raconteur, unicyclist, high-stilt walker, band manager, and adventurer, died January 18 at his parents’ home in Ridgeland, MS after suffering courageously and uncomplainingly from cirrhosis.

Ethan’s complicated journey through life began September 22, 1980, in Flowood, MS. He was the youngest son of Janet Hendrick and John Benton Clark.

From his earliest years Ethan curated his own story. At two he most famously narrated his actions, “Running. . . running. . .falling. . .falling. . .crying. . . crying.” The story grew more complex in later years. One secret he kept until recently was how horribly he was bullied in every school he attended, both public and private.

After running away from home on his seventeenth birthday, Ethan led a peripatetic life, settling for long periods in artist communes in Asheville, NC; Iowa City; and New Orleans. Along the way he wrote a book of short stories, edited a book of New Orleans stories, and co-authored and illustrated a bike repair manual, although he was most admired for his distinctive art.

In New Orleans Ethan helped found two nonprofit organizations: a cooperative print shop to teach salable skills to residents of an impoverished neighborhood and a bike collective that refurbished donated bicycles to sell at low prices.

Ethan’s wide circle of friends stood him in good stead as he hitchhiked, jumped freight trains, and drove a series of iffy vehicles to see the country. Once a friend with a car decided mid-Nebraska that the state was too long to get across and Ethan opted to continue alone. He hitched rides to Seattle, arriving past midnight with only $2.50. He decided to go to an all-night coffeehouse and buy one cup of coffee to nurse until morning. As he ordered, he heard a voice behind him saying, “Ethan! What are you doing here, man?” and he was saved.

Ethan used his childhood frequent flyer points to get to Ireland with $70 in his pocket to visit friends, checking his disassembled bike as luggage. After landing he rode the airport shuttle to a hotel where he put his bike together and rode to his friends‘ place. Their apartment turned out to be just big enough for their bed so Ethan bought a tent and pitched it on a ledge outside their window. He reported that this was fine except that a church was his neighbor and its bells tolled constantly, as did many other nearby bells. When the bells supposedly flew away on the Thursday before Easter to return on Easter Sunday full of treats for little children, he was delighted to finally have unbroken sleep. He worked as a bike mechanic in Dublin for two months and decided to hitchhike to Amsterdam (notwithstanding the English and Irish Channels which his parents feared he had overlooked). There, of course, he found friends who lived in what he said was a “legal squat.”

Living with his parents during his last three months of life, he said repeatedly, “I’m happy to be home,” despite his lifelong desire to escape Mississippi. As long as he was able, he worked at his art and writing and reconnected with family and friends across the country. At last he came to realize how deeply he was loved and expressed gratitude to the many people who had helped him in his lifelong fight against anxiety, crushing depression, and profound loneliness.

Survivors include Ethan's parents; brothers and sisters-in-law Josh and Melanie Clark, NYC, and Matt Clark and Virginia DeBeukelaer, Woodstock, GA. Survivors also include his grandmother, Mary Ferrell Hendrick, Ridgeland, MS; uncle and aunt Eric and Karan Clark, Oxford, MS; aunt Judy Clark, Brandon, MS; aunts Ann Hendrick, Jackson, MS, and Becky Hendrick, Tucson, AZ; five nieces and nephews and many cousins. He is also survived by his beloved friend Amy Andrews and her dear children.

Services at Northminster Baptist Church, 3955 Ridgewood Rd., Jackson, Saturday, January 25, will include visitation beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the memorial service at 3.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 S. Lamar St., Jackson, MS 39201 or Hospice Ministries, Inc., 450 Towne Center Blvd., Ridgeland, MS 39157.

The family are grateful to Hospice Ministries and to sitters Dianne Jones, Sharhonda Jones, Ieshia Harden and Mary Rolle for the tender care given to Ethan in his final days.

To send flowers in memory of Ethan Baker Clark, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Visitation

Saturday

25

Jan

1:00 PM 1/25/2020 1:00:00 PM - 3:00 PM 1/25/2020 3:00:00 PM
Family Service at Northminster Baptist Church

3955 Ridgewood Rd.
Jackson, MS 39211

Family Service at Northminster Baptist Church
3955 Ridgewood Rd. Jackson 39211 MS
United States

Service

Saturday

25

Jan

3:00 PM 1/25/2020 3:00:00 PM
Family Service at Northminster Baptist Church

3955 Ridgewood Rd.
Jackson, MS 39211

Family Service at Northminster Baptist Church
3955 Ridgewood Rd. Jackson 39211 MS
United States

Memorial Contribution

Mississippi Museum of Art

380 Lamar Street
Jackson , MS 39201

Hospice Ministries

450 Towne Center Blvd
Ridgeland, MS 39157
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