Roy Exum: Warren Clark’s Kindness

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Warren Clark, who masterfully taught so many of us that being nice may be good manners but that being kind is a saintly virtue, was buried on Tuesday and, of all the men I have known, I can’t think of a one who was assured of a warmer welcome into heaven than my “Mr. Clark.” He was far and away one of my life’s greatest heroes.

As Joe Novenson so eloquently painted the main reasons the “gentleman’s gentleman” was assured of a kingdom he so richly deserved at Lookout Mountain’s Presbyterian Church yesterday, I sat among a true giant’s following of family and friends and realized I have tried to emulate him, without much success. I must add, Warren Clark had a delightful grip on life and an empowering influence on every single person he met during his life’s journey.

Rev. Novenson came close when he told how every Sunday morning, this long before he became the church’s pastor, Warren would be the first at the church to warmly welcome both visitor and member alike. I am talking about every Sunday morning for many years and he did so in such a memorable yet soft and kind way dozens would notice any time he wasn’t at the front door. That may sound silly to some but, candidly, he could actually turn his warm and genuine “good morning” into the first prayer of the day.

I’ve known him almost all of my life, since he was active in so many of the things I also hold dear, but not until as a young parent, when we moved several doors down from his family, did I really yearn to emulate his style, his grace, his zest for life, and the example he and his wife Norma taught a new generation about parenting, all without ever uttering a single word.

The Clark kids -- Kappie, Raoul and Sholar – were all winners, not just in tennis where Pastor Novenson reminded us that Warren “had a drop shot that would send every one of you to poverty,” but the Clarks excelled in everything. What an impact … my children even included their dog in nightly prayers and my daughter, starting at the precocious age when we were at first scared to let her out of sight, could always be found in the Clark’s kitchen.

He was a great patriot, enlisting again for Korea after serving with the Merchant Marines in World War II, and, while he was a success at business, he was never a glitter-and-glitz guy. Few at Manker Patten Tennis Center, where only his popularity was greater than his humility, realized he was one of the greatest masters of the game, evidenced by the fact he was in both the Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame.

The best afternoons away from the tennis court were lunches shared with friends like John Guerry and Darrell McDonald. Mr. Clark would rather curiously always order the same thing, a hamburger and a helping of green beans. One day I got the nerve to ask him why the strange combination and his Mississippi heritage came into play when he softly laughed, “A hamburger is a hamburger just about anywhere but I really like green beans!”

Warren’s closest friends knew that some times in his life have been tougher than others. A favorite Bible verse was John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” and Mr. Clark reflected that beautiful in his many victories both on and off the tennis courts.

His friends also know that throughout the South there were a number of nameless, once-desperate men who were changed forever because of Warren’s endless parade of quiet one-on-one Bible lessons. As his daughter Sholar told Rev. Novenson, “My father demonstrated the love of God better than anyone I have ever known in my entire life.”

Sholar, the youngest, also said, “The most special thing about my father was his way of making everybody else feel special,” and it was true. Some years ago he was elected as Elder Emeritus at his beloved church and late last week, as his lifelong friend Billy Caulkins leaned in close over his bed to offer the quiet prayerful words, “Go home, warrior,” this scant hours before he died, it was lost on none of us that Warren Clark had been a giver all the way to the very end.

The legendary D.L. Moody once noted, “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”

Warren Clark, whose kindness was so very extraordinary and who used it weekly to greet those who came to worship as no one before nor since, is finally at home and I agree with the late Mr. Moody, he has never been more alive.

I hope part of my Mr. Clark will live with me forever.

royexum@aol.com


Dr. Livesay Should Step Down From Bryan College Leadership - And Response (7)

I am writing in response to the July 25th article, "Online Petition Seeks Removal of Bryan College President, Board Chair".  As a graduate of Bryan College (1984), I am saddened by the response of Dr. Stephen Livesay and the Board of Trustees regarding the online petition.  The purpose of the petition really has little to do with the school’s “clarification” of its ... (click for more)

A Pox On Both Their Houses

Americans all across this country should be aware of how really dishonest both major political parties are being with their constituents as they try to rally voters to their side of the health care debate.   First of all, on the Republican side, having the defunding of Planned Parenthood in their bill means they are already behind the eight ball as they try to muster the ... (click for more)

Bill Kilbride To Retire As Chamber CEO; To Step Down Dec. 31; Chamber Starts Transition Process

Bill Kilbride, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber, has announced that he is retiring from his position effective  Dec. 31 .   Larry Buie, chairman of the Chamber board of directors, expressed his appreciation for Bill's efforts. He said, “Bill Kilbride has led us through the past three years to a place of excellence in terms of strategic leadership. Among ... (click for more)

Corker Votes For Amendment To Repeal Core Elements Of Obamacare; Alexander Votes Against It

Senator Bob Corker voted for an amendment to repeal the core elements of Obamacare, while allowing for a reasonable transition period for a replacement to be developed and implemented. “As I have said before, I believe the best path forward is for Congress to repeal Obamacare after a reasonable transition period,” said Senator Corker. “This amendment would take us back ... (click for more)

Lookouts Open Homestand Tuesday With 9-4 Win Over Birmingham

The last place Birmingham Barons fell victim to a six-run sixth inning uprising that lifted the first place Chattanooga Lookouts to Tuesday night's 9-4 win  -- their 24th win of the second half. The Lookouts have 12 wins at home and 12 wins on the road. Starting pitcher Stephen Gonsalves allowed just three hits over 5 2/3 innings. Gonsalves (7-3) allowed two runs while ... (click for more)

SEC Annouces Television Schedule For First Three Weeks Of 2017 Season

The SEC Office on Tuesday announced the start times for games on the SEC Network during the first three weeks of the 2017 season.   The SEC Network Saturday schedule opens with three games on September 2 .  The Network will air six games on the second week of the season and five games in Week 3.  The first Conference matchup of the year on the ... (click for more)