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A loss mourned, and a life celebrated
POULSBO — As the stories go, whenever you spent some time with Linda Clark you always came away with something — a mood uplifted, an outlook made sunnier, a need met.
When people gather May 18, 3 p.m., at North Kitsap Baptist Church to celebrate Clark’s life, they will come away with more gifts: Examples of how to live selflessly and find joy everyday. Examples of how a hug or a bowl of chicken soup made a difference in someone’s life.
“Linda never looked for recognition in anything that she did,” said Anita Mathews, secretary at North Kitsap Baptist Church. “She was truly humble, loving and giving … Her passing will leave a huge void in our church family and she will be greatly missed.”
Clark died April 14 from head trauma caused by a fall; she was 58. Her husband, Randy, said she was being treated for fibromyalgia and was taking medication that made her dizzy.
Characteristically, she was making cookies for some fellow volunteers when she was stricken.
The Clarks retired to the Poulsbo area in 2003 after selling a clothing business they founded nine years earlier. As a young retiree with resources and time on her hands, Linda Clark was a whirlwind of energy and goodwill in her adopted community.
Kathy Smith, a volunteer coordinator at North Kitsap Fishline, said you had to have tasks ready for Clark when she walked in the door at 8 or 9 a.m.
“She’d ask, ‘What do I do?’ You had to be ready for her. If you weren’t, she’d check in with other volunteers and see what they were doing and how they were doing.”
Clark always seemed one step ahead. At Project Connect in Bremerton, someone once asked how they were going to get information out in the community about a meal program, to find Clark had already done it.
“She would come into the Fishline and Poulsbo First Lutheran Church’s Toy Shop, look around to see what toys we were running low on, and then go out and buy the needed toys,” said Sharon Nichols of Poulsbo First Lutheran Church.
At Fishline Food Bank, if, during the course of her volunteer tasks, she noticed a supply was running low, she’d go to the store and buy it.
At North Kitsap Baptist Church, Clark worked in the church’s Upwards Soccer Camp snack tent and gave treats to all the children, whether they could afford it or not. “She would always go out and purchase plenty of fun snacks as well as healthy ones,” Mathews said.
“She worked in Vacation Bible School each year and was a teem leader. All the kids loved her and wanted to be in her group. Linda loved everyone with a Christ-like unconditional love and she absolutely loved the kids.”
She helped in the church’s Awana Club and taught in the children’s department on Sundays. She provided a meal every week for the church’s high school small groups.
“Anytime there was a potluck or dinner of some sort at church, she always helped in the kitchen,” Mathews said. “She had such a servant’s heart. She kept the church freezers full of cookies and baked goods for Sunday fellowship time, between church services, never letting anyone know that she did that. I’m sure in due time the gals that run the fellowship time will wonder where all the goodies are going, not realizing Linda put goodies in there on a weekly basis.”
If she knew of a family in need in her church, she would leave a gift card in the family’s mail folder anonymously, Mathews said.
Clark was also fun. “I can’t imagine this world without her smile and those crazy tie-dyed socks,” said Rae Rodriguez, client services advocate at North Kitsap Fishline. “No matter how bad a day you were having, you couldn’t help but feel better because she was so sweet, and because of her tie-dyed socks and shirts and her hats.”
According to her family, Clark was born in Fairbanks, Alaska on Jan. 10, 1955. She lived in Arkansas and in Palmdale, Calif., where she completed high school. She earned an associate’s degree at Antelope Junior College and worked as assistant manager at Antelope Valley Golf and Country Club. In her late 20s, she moved to the Seattle area to work for the U.S. Department of Health and then Sun Sportswear. She and Randy met at Sun Sportswear and were married March 7, 1993. In 1994, the Clarks and two other partners founded The Source; nine years later they retired and moved to Poulsbo.
Clark’s husband, Randy, said he met his wife when she was in her early 30s and she was generous and giving then.
“As a child, she was the one that brought the stray kittens home,” he said. “She had this love of anything and everything. It was a part of her.”
He said she knew the power of a hug and “God bless you,” the assurance that we’re not traveling life’s peaks and valleys alone.
“The way our world is today, I don’t think there’s a time when someone doesn’t need a hug,” he said.
If someone comes away with anything from her example, he said, it’s this: “Take time to look at God’s creation. Take time to love someone. That was her message 24/7.”
She is survived by her husband, Randy; sons, Steven, Kelly (Marnie) and Kyle (Lisa); daughter, Amanda Lilly; brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Maria McMullen and their sons, Patrick and Danny; grandchildren, Kevin, McKenzie, Drew, Keenan, Dawson and Rory; “Dad” Howard Clark; and brother- and sister-in-law, Larry and Molly Clark.
The family prefers memorial donations to North Kitsap Fishline, Bremerton Rescue Mission, Children of the Nations or PAWS.