John E. Clark, Jr. passed away early on February 20, 2020 at the age of 79, after an extended illness. He was born December 18, 1940 to John and Elizabeth (Sigley) Clark. John, known as “Dick” within his extended family, was an Eagle Scout, Ridgewood High Class of 1958, and a distinguished member of the Dartmouth College Class of 1962. During an undergraduate sabbatical, he found himself in Germany with Army intelligence during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After Dartmouth and armed with a Wharton M.B.A., a career in the insurance industry eventually led him back to working with his father in Ridgewood. There, he dove headfirst into his community, serving first as an EMT and eventually winning election to the Ridgewood village council.
A lifelong Republican and card-carrying member of the ACLU, he was equally comfortable praising conservative politics and decrying class injustice. Never one to slow down, in his 50s John pursued a Ph.D. in history at Princeton. Ever the student of American history, he became a leading authority on the subject of rail logistics in Grant’s Chattanooga campaign, and he spent a quarter century crafting a box of letters home from the war into a combat surgeon’s personal history of China in World War II. Stepping aside from his business career, in 2000 he began teaching high school history at Garrett Morgan Academy in Paterson, where he mentored inner-city kids while struggling against school politics.
He was always fond of the outdoors, having climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers, section-hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, and dived with sharks in the Caribbean. His non-biological family, of course, was Dartmouth College. John served for many years in various roles on the Alumni Council, interviewing and mentoring prospective students, and working tirelessly for the Class of 1962. He was honored with the Dartmouth Alumni Award in 1988, and he will be sorely missed.
John is survived by his sister Sally and her husband David Sloop, of Raleigh, NC; daughter Elizabeth and her husband Ralph Fariello of Montville, NJ; son Tom and his wife Jamie of Fanwood, NJ; son Rob and partner Julia Brice of Hudson, MA; his closest nephew John Friberg of Fairlawn, NJ; as well as his grandchildren Dan, Natalie, and Caroline Fariello, and de facto grandchildren Alex and Megan Sankovich of Hebron, CT and great grandchildren Jack and Archer Sankovich. He was predeceased by his great love, Norma-Jean (Wetherbee), his older sister Barbara Friberg, and his younger brother William.
A visitation will be held at Feeney Funeral Home in Ridgewood, NJ from 4pm to 8pm on Monday, March 9, and a celebration of his life will take place Tuesday, March 10 at 11am at West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood. In lieu of flowers, John’s family asks that donations be made to the Dartmouth College Fund in memory of John Clark ‘62.
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