JAMES ROBERT CLARKE, MY GRAMPS

By DR. CLARKE VINCENT FILIPPI


Car dealer

Bank founder

Free Mason

Shriner

Rotarian

Elk

Lion 500

Chamber of Commerce

Newspaper boy

Delivery boy

Dish washer

Janitor

Quick-silver miner

Ship fitter

Patriot

Veteran

Sailor

World traveler

Craftsman

Circus modeler

Parade volunteer

USC football fan

Boy scout troop master

Mentor

Friend

Uncle

Great-grandfather

Grandfather

Father

Husband

    Wow!  How can anybody possibly live such a full life?  How can you explain a seventy six year old going to Antarctica twice?  The only answer I can think of is that one would have to have the energy and vigor of my grandfather, James Robert Clarke... Gramps.

     I feel truly blessed that for the last twenty-eight years, I have had four wonderful grandparents that have been a part of my life.  We have celebrated holidays, and weddings; graduations, births, and anniversaries.

     We have traveled in California, the United States, and Europe.

     Some of the most special trips were the ones when my grandfather and I would volunteer at the Great Circus Parade.  I think he counted the days until we would head to Milwaukee.  Once there, we would ride the circus train, work long days, and eat salads with “shakum-up” dressing and pizzas late at night. To see Gramps at the circus was like watching him shed seventy years as he joyfully worked with throngs of wide-eyed adults and children.  Often, I could not tell who was more excited, Grandpa or the kids.

     Recently, there were several years when school prevented me from accompanying Gramps to the parade.  This year though I was determined to take my wife and son to experience the magic and excitement, and when I asked him for three extra tickets to Milwaukee I think he was truly thrilled.  And in July, he was proud to share this circus experience with another generation of his family.

     Among all of the qualities, occupations, and interests I spoke of in the beginning, I did not mention that he was also a "leader."  For not only was Gramps a member of these clubs and organizations, but he was also the president of many of them.  I think that his leading by example was his way to show all of us how much fun life could be.  I hope that someday I can have 1/10 of the effect on people that Gramps had on everyone he met and with everything he worked.

     Unfortunately, there is not enough time today for me to tell you about all of the fond memories.  Everyone in my family is so proud of Gramps, and is honored to have been a part of his life and legacy.  I know that I have no regrets, and I am sure he did not have any, and that is the way he would want it.

     Finally as you well know, my grandfather had a great room at his house where he displayed everything that made him happy.  And as we looked through some of his things, we found a prayer tucked behind his typewriter.  I would like to share that prayer with you.  It is titled: "A prayer for you."

     I said a prayer for you today and know God must have heard.  I felt the answer in my heart, although He spoke no word.  I didn't ask for wealth or fame -- I knew you wouldn't mind.  I asked Him to send treasures of a far more lasting kind.  I asked that He'd be near you at the start of each new day, to grant you health & blessings and friends to share your way.

     I asked for happiness for you in all things great and small, but it was for His loving care I prayed for most of all.

     On behalf of our family, I thank you all for coming to remember Jimmy in this special way.
 

Old Salt... JR... Old JR... Older JR... Uncle Jimmy... The last Clarke... My mother's (slightly older) brother. I used to ride up to Alfred Mathews Cad-Olds-GMC dealership on McHenry Ave (I found it moved up the avenue from time to time) on my motorcycle, would cruise into the office asking for Uncle Jimmy. Sometimes we was there, other times he was handling other ventures. Once, I remember I was headed back to my Moto Guzzi when I heard over the PA system "Would Mitch Laing Return To The Office". My cousins daughter, Laura, working in the office, had called Aunt Sylvia, wanting to make sure I went out to the house! (Yes, I was headed there next)
I will always remember the rubber chicken hanging in their house, a small "Cad" parade car, the workshop, his circus wagons, always wanting a Cadillac hood ormament as a child (I got a sewable patch that I still have and display amongst my collection of odds and ends), and the snare drum he gave me when I wanted to be a drummer -- but I will NEVER FORGET the smell of cherry tobacco from his pipe, and the great collection of pipes that he had until he had to give them up for health reasons.
He will be missed by Sylvia, Susan, Ann, Elvio, Dick, Clarke, Laura, three Great-Grand Children (and one more on the way), my sister Judy and myself -- continually loved by everyone in the Clarke, Filippi, Phillips, Laing and Mueting families, and remembered by so many in Modesto, Hollister and all of California.

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Page Updated on January 13, 2000.
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