With the urging and support of her children, June made the intrepid decision to earnestly pursue the college studies that had up until that time in her life been a part-time endeavor. Studying at both Tarrant County College and Texas Christian University, she plunged into her educational pursuits with determination and dedication, earning her degree in art education from Texas Christian University on May 26, 1981 – with her children and grandchildren watching in astonishment as a 59-year-old woman walked the academic stage to receive her diploma. However, the nature of her creative studies reached beyond the typical classroom and took on cathartic aspects – as her own home became the repository and gallery for her artistic creations, thereby serving as an ingenious vehicle for psychological recovery. June also participated in drama productions, with her talent in art aiding in the creation of stage props and background scenery. With her family sometimes watching in amazed glee, she took stage roles in familiar classics such as The Pirates of Penzance, losing herself in the projection of character that true acting always demands. Throughout her studies and subsequent professional life, much of her artwork took on a Japanese theme, as she recalled her younger years in that country with her Army Air Corps husband and 2 oldest sons. Her efforts to overcome tragedy were valiant, indubitable and in due course successful.
Finding new meaning in life despite the tragedies that had afflicted her, June pressed on with a professional career in art education, as if she were 20 years younger in age – rather than the sixty-year-old widow she actually was. With a background as a military wife who had experienced a plethora of cultures the world over, life had provided her with valuable skills in the professionally marketable ability to connect with ethnic minorities – not to mention her intense love of children and a lifelong role as a mother of eight. A vivacious, warm and outgoing woman, June swiftly found herself instructing young preschoolers at a variety of daycare programs, including the esteemed educational curriculum provided through the famous La Petite Academy. Exceptionally talented in many facets of art, she “made the weekly circuit” travelling from one preschool program to another – providing valuable instruction in self-esteem, eye-hand coordination, creative expression, and other aspects of childhood development that required an experienced and trained teacher. Throughout this unexpected phase of her life, the not-to-be-denied widow also inwardly guarded the desire to create a children’s easy reader that would feature her own artistic illustrations and literary storyline.
As June retired from the world of employment and gracefully eased into her golden years, she actively took up the art of writing, which in turn led to stints of traveling – both with and without her children. Having traversed the world with her husband and offspring, June now made journeys of her own to places such as Florida and Washington D. C., where she paid her return respects to the last resting spot of her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. On a few occasions, she was also able to visit her sister in Michigan, at one point making the trip by car with her oldest daughter. For many years, her home was the site of memorable Christmas celebrations for her children, grandchildren, and friends of the family. Photos of these events bear no indication of the deep sadness the Yuletide Season can bring to the memories of June and her surviving children, who will never forget the unopened presents of 1979. Now undoubtedly the family matriarch, June is both a grandmother and great grandmother, having spent her most recent years dabbling in art, reading, writing, sewing, working crossword puzzles, and watching old movies. Ask her the name of any actor or actress in a classic movie and she will usually know the answer. Much to the amazement of her sons, June has become an avid sports fan. She took special pride when her beloved Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship in 2011 and she is hopeful that the Texas Rangers will one day finally win the World Series.
June Clark’s journalistic dream finally came to fruition in the form of a beautifully illustrated children’s book entitled Down the Lane, a writing endeavor that finally achieved publication in 2009 after several years of sketching, writing, and literary editing. From cover to cover, the book is the unique work of June, including the delightful illustrations to which any young child is drawn upon opening the eye-catching cover. Inspired by June’s Great Depression Era childhood memories in Tecumseh and Macon, Michigan, the storyline is a fantasy tale of how two country children realize that their grandparents are in danger of losing the family farm and home. Mystical events occur when they dare to go “down the lane” behind grandpa’s barn, daring to do things that he has forbidden. Embarking on a delightful adventure, the children meet the legendary Mugwump – as they attempt to pick May flowers and complete their “May baskets” for the school party. Life becomes very exciting and magical for the inquisitive children, as they gain the ability to actually fly and ride the “jet stream” with the aid of the Mugwump.
With a full life behind her, June Clark can now cast a nonagenarian’s glance across the chasm of time since her husband’s unexpected and tragic exit from her life, with eyes wrinkled by nine decades of living but still bearing an unmistakable sparkle of feminine courage that has earned her the distinction of “belle of steel” from one noted writer. Although she is proudly aware of her personal fortitude and undeniable victories in life, the realist inside this mother of eight and wife of one is keenly aware that terrorism robs families of things that can never be replaced or repaired – that a life lost to violence is irreplaceable to the human spirit and family circles. “I will always feel cheated,” she states emphatically, “and I have no doubt that my youngest children were also cheated – of the opportunity to know their father as an adult.” Deep psychological cut marks, without any doubt the result and consequence of Jim Clark’s untimely death, have scarred the lives of her offspring – in ways that June winces to even remember. Her children’s personal victories in overcoming these wounds are equally significant to her own, and June is very aware and proud of that fact. When asked if the heroism of her husband deserves a national monument, June’s reply comes in a firm voice and without hesitation. “Look at his life – is there really any doubt of that fact?” Even the World War II Memorial, erected in Washington D. C. in 2004, does not truly honor June’s husband because he did not die in that conflict – and because his military service extends far beyond it. “Jim’s sacrifice of life for his country rises far above and beyond any normal war,” says June, “and it deserves some type of recognition.” Coming from such an invincible woman, who has now lived beyond her 91st birthday, these are words that are hard to refute or deny. It is for family members like June Clark that this website exists, so we are in total agreement.
You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.