Mary Harris Clark

May 20, 2021

Mary Harris Clark died in Sarasota Florida after a long and eventful life. She led her life on her own terms and touched many people. For many, meeting Mary Clark changed their lives for the better.

She was born in Providence and attended the Lincoln, Wheeler, and Westover Schools. During the war she was a Red Cross volunteer and worked at Harris and Parsons Ship Yard in East Greenwich RI. Mary married W. Van Alan Clark Jr in 1947. They raised seven children on Ram Island in Marion.

Mary was a prolific gardener and horticulturist who surrounded herself with flowers and plants of all kinds. She planted and maintained large perennial beds and a hot house full of orchids. She drew, painted and sculpted well in all media. She could handle a boat as well as any professional captain and competed against top international helmsmen in national and international competition. She raised championship winning Quarter Horses. She aspired to be among the best at everything she pursued and the scope of her ambition was often misunderstood or under appreciated. Above all else, first last and always, she was our mother. She thought that raising extraordinary children was her supreme responsibility.

She is survived by seven children. Bill Clark of Colchester CT, Caroline Kressly of Allentown PA, Cricket Tupper of Cundy’s Harbor ME, Stephen Clark of Warren RI, Lucy Nesbeda of New Bedford MA, Hannah Moore of Marion MA, and Jo-Ann Watson of Marion MA. 14 Grand Children Hannah Nesbeda, Robin Nesbeda, Matthew Kressly, Amanda Kressly, Alan Tupper, Jackielyn Matthews, Katharine Clark, William Clark, David Clark, Oliver Moore, Sam Moore, Christopher Moore, and Thomas Moore. Great Grand Children Lorenza Kressly, Melissa Rice, Christina Matthews, Isabel Jokell , Winifred Jokell, Finn Moore, Helen Moore, Angelina Moore, Sophia Moore and Hazel Moore.

Mary co-founded the Island Foundation with Van and lead through the transition caused by his death in 1983. The Foundation continues to make grants in Southeastern Massachusetts and globally. She made foundational gifts to the Sippican Lands Trust. She was instrumental in Sun Coast Hippo Therapy, and there is no count of the number of people whose tuition she paid to attend the schools they wanted to attend but couldn’t afford. She had a strong and fundamental belief in her opportunity to enable those around her through supporting their education.

Mary did many things that no one else could do or would do. Such people are rare. The world is diminished by her passing.

Gifts in memory of Mary can be made to: The Center for Great Apes, PO Box 488, Wauchula, FL 33873.