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John W. Clark, WWII radar operator, dies at 92

Clark, of Bayport, served as a radar operator in the Navy, raised a family of four, drove a bus for 36 years and then owned a small business. He also loved sports and volunteered his time to coach countless young athletes in his town.

John W. Clark in 1945.

John W. Clark in 1945. Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

John W. Clark dedicated his life to the things he loved. He didn’t think twice about enlisting to serve his country during World War II. After returning home, he was devoted to family and community.

Clark served as a radar operator in the Navy, raised a family of four, drove a bus for 36 years and then owned a small business. He also loved sports and volunteered his time to coach countless young athletes in his town.

“He was an amazing man,” said his youngest son, Jim Clark, of Bayport. “He was a giving man who was honored to serve his country and felt blessed to come home and be a family man.”

John W. Clark, of Bayport, died from a pulmonary disorder on March 6. He was 92.

Clark was born in Brooklyn in 1926 and quit high school in 1943 to join the United States Navy when he was 17. When he turned 18, he was sent to San Diego and became part of a fleet that was sent into the Pacific Ocean to help bring home soldiers from combat.

“He regaled us with stories of his time at sea and the importance of getting soldiers home safely to the United States,” Jim Clark said. “He said the ship picked up soldiers who were in heavy combat, and he’d never forget that look in their eyes.

“He always told me it was his duty to serve his country,” Jim Clark said. “My dad said he didn’t flinch when he got the call. Patriotism was important to him. He was always about his family and honoring his country — he was very proud to be an American. He went about his business quietly and was an extremely humble guy who always put everyone before him right up to the end.”

Clark returned home in 1948 and married Marion Schum in 1949. He was 22 and she 19. They were married for 69 years.

“He was my first and only love,” Marion Clark said. “I met him when I was 14 years old and I never knew any other kind of love. He was all about our family and doing things the right way. He was kind, generous, giving, just a selfless man.

“We couldn’t have children, so we decided to adopt,” Marion said. “We had so much love to give, and John was all about having our own family.”

The Clarks adopted four children — Jim, John, Kathy and Raymond, who died in 2016 — between 1956 and 1970. The family moved to Bayport in 1977.

“Three of us were adopted from Canada,” said John Clark, who lives in Eva, Alabama. “They gave us a home. And our parents were fostering Jimmy, who was an infant from Queens, and his adoption to another family fell through. So, we adopted him to complete our family.”

Clark was a bus driver for the New York City Transit Authority for 28 years and after retiring drove a school bus for eight years. He then opened Mr. C’s video in Sound Beach in 1990.

“When videos were at the height of popularity, he opened the store,” Jim Clark said. “He owned it for 10 years and didn’t even know how to operate a VCR.”

Clark was an avid sports fan who loved the Mets, Knicks, Jets and Rangers. He also coached little league and travel baseball teams for 10 years.

“Coach Clark was the best,” said former baseball player and family friend Brian Coffey of Blue Point. “He always made you feel good about yourself. He was a coach with a big smile and a bigger heart who loved to teach us the game.”

In addition to sons Jim and John, Clark is survived by his daughter, Kathy Alvarado and her husband Augie of Loveland, Colo., daughters-in-law Beth Clark and Sue Clark, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

A viewing will be held March 9 at Raynor & D’ Andrea Funeral Home in Bayport from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. A funeral mass will be March 11 at 9:45 a.m. at the Our Lady of the Snow Church in Blue Point followed by a burial at the Calverton National Cemetery.

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