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Larry Edmond Clark

October 4, 1947 July 10, 2017
Larry Edmond Clark
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Obituary for Larry Edmond Clark

Larry Clark lived a life of integrity and humor. He passed away at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson on July 10, 2017, surrounded by his loving family.

Larry was born October 4, 1947, the second of three sons of John Smith Clark and Mamie Craft Clark of Mize, Smith County, Mississippi. From the beginning, Larry broke norms. He did not speak until he was almost three, but his first words were a complete sentence: "I want to go to town." Asked years later why he did not speak earlier, Larry said, "Up to then, everything was going okay!" An early and avid reader, Larry read to pieces his favorite volumes of the family’s set of the World Book Encyclopedia. Larry attended Taylorsville High, where he was a promising football quarterback; McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN; and graduated from Ellisville High School in 1965.

At Millsaps College, Larry was a member and officer of Kappa Alpha Order. He was editor of the college newspaper, the Purple and White, during turbulent times when the P & W was speaking out on civil rights. He graduated in 1969 with a B.A. in political science and then attended the University of Mississippi School of Law where he was a member of Moot Court, graduating in 1972. After active duty training in the United States Army Reserve, he returned to Smith County to practice law. Larry took to heart the revolutionary philosophy taught to him by his father --most gifts and talents were due to an accident of birth, and those born into a position of privilege owed much back to society to make this world a better place. Larry lived this in his professional and personal life every day.

The Smith County School Board retained Larry as attorney, setting him on a career-long path of interest and expertise in education and county government. On behalf of Superintendent Joe Tally and the board, Larry filed and prosecuted numerous lawsuits against the Smith County Board of Supervisors, leaseholders and others who were abusing the Sixteenth Section school lands by leasing them for pennies per acre to political cronies and friends, depriving schools of much-needed funds. Several of Larry’s cases, including Tally v. Smith County Board of Supervisors, went to the Mississippi Supreme Court. The publicity from those successful cases led to the passage of important legislation by the Legislature in 1974 and 1978, which protected the Sixteenth Section trust lands from many abuses. From a statewide total of less than $3 million in the early 1970s, the annual rentals from the trust lands rose to approximately $100 million in 2016. Every student who has attended a public school in Mississippi in the past forty years has benefited from the judicial and legislative reforms that Larry Clark ignited.

In 1974 Larry was introduced to Judy Polk of Magee; several people had been conspiring to bring these two together. Their first date was appropriately at an Ole Miss football game with their first kiss coming after a Rebel touchdown. Both were immediately smitten. Within 24 hours, they had introduced each other to family and close friends. After a six-week whirlwind romance, Larry proposed, and they were married after six months. Over the years, Larry was known to sweep her into his arms while Judy was cooking dinner and waltz around the kitchen, kissing her passionately. He opened every car door and pulled out every chair for her and built fires whenever she was cold, even when the thermometer outside read 60 degrees. They remained deeply in love and devoted to one other; they were happiest when together.

Larry had three daughters whom he adored and respected and who adored and respected him. When they were little girls, he would sit in their rooms and sing them to sleep with his favorite ballads. He spent hours playing with them outdoors at his favorite place, the family tree farm in Smith County. He impressed upon them the importance of kindness, honesty and of “sticking up for the little guy.”

In 1988, Larry took a position as an Assistant Attorney General for Mike Moore. Larry remained with the AG’s office for more than 12 years, heading the Opinions section, representing the State Auditor, Department of Audit, and the MS Ethics Commission, before rising to the position of Deputy Attorney General over civil matters. Larry embodied a public servant. He mentored hundreds of young attorneys; impressing upon them the responsibility of their profession and to be a “priest in the temple of justice.” After retirement from state employment, Larry practiced law for several years with Watkins Ludlam and then Purdie& Metz, where he returned to his passion, public education, representing the Simpson County School Board.

Larry was gentle and kind. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was the best storyteller in a family of storytellers. His yarns, jokes and pranks were legendary. He was a lifelong devoted fan of Ole Miss sports, particularly football. He was always reading two to three books at a time and loved biographies and histories; he referred to himself as an amateur historian and was a sounding board and source for every term paper his children and nephews wrote. He loved spending his time outdoors surrounded by trees. He had a soft spot for living creatures, particularly birds. He could easily identify and imitate birdcalls by whistling. A Celt down to his bones, he was full of Scottish superstition. An avid stargazer, he explored the heavens in telescopes and shared constellations and their mythologies with his daughters and grandchildren. His own moral compass pointed true North. Recently Larry had begun writing as a guest columnist for the Clarion Ledgerwhere he educated everyone on the background and history of important events being a foil to the rhetoric and alternative facts floating around today's news.

Larry had a strong and abiding faith and was a long-time member of Northminister Baptist Church, where he often taught Sunday School. Larry was deeply, deeply loved by his family and his many, many friends.

Larry was predeceased by his parents, his dear aunt and uncle Polly and Charles Clark, and his father-in-law, Eugene Polk. He is survived by his wife Judy; his daughters Anne Clark Crader (Chris) of Sikeston, MO; Brynna Clark (Johnny DeMarsico) of New York City; and Lauren Clark Ziegler (Alex) of New Orleans, LA. He was the proud grandfather of Benton Crader and Abigail Crader. He is also survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law John and Janet of Ridgeland and Eric and Karan of Brandon; his mother-in law Edith Polk, brother-in-law Brinson Polk, and sister-in-law Sherrye Polk Brame, all of Magee, and by his 10 nieces and nephews and 10 great-nieces and great-nephews.

A memorial service will be held at Northminster Baptist Church, 3955 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS, on Thursday, July 13, 2017 with visitation to begin at 12:00 pm and the service at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that friends consider a gift in Larry’s memory that would benefit others at Stewpot,1100 W. Capitol Street, Jackson, MS 39203 or the NorthminsterPastors’ Benevolence Fund.

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Previous Events

Visitation

Thursday

13

Jul

12:00 PM 7/13/2017 12:00:00 PM - 1:50 PM 7/13/2017 1:50:00 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

Funeral Service

Thursday

13

Jul

2:00 PM 7/13/2017 2:00:00 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
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