This is our favorite portrait of Wilkie Clark.
He was born March 8, 1920 in Carrollton, Caroll County, Georgia. He was one of the descendants of the late Lizzie Baker, a native of Randolph County. Lizzie’s daughter, Lou Ella Baker married Charlie Clark from Bremen, Georgia, but she later left him and returned home with all of her children to “Springfield.” The children had to sharecrop, and therefore, could not get a high school education. But, Wilkie Clark had a strong, determined mind.
As a mere teenager, he left the “Springfield” community and came to Roanoke, Alabama, where he worked for Dr. G.W. Bonner. He was later drafted into the Army, and served in World War II, where he really “found himself.” While in the army, he served in the medical detatchment as a surgical technician, earning the rank of Technician 5th Grade. Drawing upon his surgical experience, it was there that he developed a reverence for the human body. Upon his return home, while still in his 20’s, he immediately completed his high school education. He had an intense desire to start a funeral home business; he solicited the help of friends to partner with him in this endeavor, but being black, there were many barriers, so the dream was deferred for more than 20 years.
In the meantime, he married the former Miss Hattie Lee Peters, a young teacher from Anniston, Alabama. She was a graduate of Alabama State Teachers College in Huntsville, Alabama, which is now, Alabama A & M University. She was in Randolph County, teaching in the rural communities, where she boarded with families of the children she taught. She was a very bright, intelligent sophisticated woman, who loved her husband dearly, and worked alongside of him, to make their dreams come true. She became known as one of the finest elementary teachers in the Randolph County School System, and was named Coordinator of the Elementary Department at the Randolph County Training School in Roanoke. As an educator, she loved her profession, and she loved working with the children of the community.
Together, Wilkie and Hattie Lee had one child, a daughter, whom they named Charlotte Anne Clark, whom they nurtured, educated, and groomed to be the one to ultimately assume the primary responsibility for the company’s operation.
He had an excellent work ethic, which would later become a credit to him. Therefore, Clark Funeral Home was actually born in the mind of the late Wilkie Clark more than 20 years before it became a reality. In the 1960s with the changing times, and many of the racial barriers eliminated, he seized the opportunity to apply for a Small Business Loan, and started moving toward the opening of his Funeral Home. The rest of the story, you know. Although we were founded prior to 1969, our first call came on February 18, 1970. Since that time, we have ministered to the families of more than 2,000 individuals. There is no way we can tell his life story in this writing, but we truly believe that Wilkie Clark was probably born a little bit before his time. God blessed him to offer his services to our community for more than 20 years. During that time, he grew professionally and cultivated his talent as a gifted funeral service practitioner. In the years of his tenure, he earned a matchless reputation for reliability, trustworthiness, and his artistic ability in preparing and presenting the dead for public memorialization.
The Clarks were both active and aggressive in their community, working with the PTA, the Church, and Civil Rights Efforts of the community. Wilkie Clark served as President of the Randolph County NAACP for more than 30 years, and took numerous personal risks to facilitate positive and sometimes radical changes in the community that helped to lift black citizens out of the oppressive circumstances in which they had been relegated for decades.
More importantly, they instilled these values in their daughter, Charlotte.
His life was characterized by unselfishness, generosity, and a strong drive to serve humanity.
They were both active and supportive members of Bethel United Methodist Church in Roanoke.
He died tragically at age 69, therefore, he did not live to accomplish many of his goals. We feel that it is important for you to know that upon his death, we had such deep respect for his reputation, his initiative, his dream, and his work ethic, that we pledged to continue to expand upon that dream. And in the years since his tragic death, that is just what we have done. Our prayer is for our community to embrace us. In our effort to provide the “ideal” in service to our communities, we graciously appeal to you for your support. Over the years, we have made numerous visible improvements in our operation — but we have envisioned much greater potential that can be achieved ONLY with YOUR patronage. Our goal is to expand our facilities as we continue to upgrade our skills and methods of delivering our services to you. As we strive “to serve this present age” we pray for your continued support, without which we cannot continue to forge into this new millennium. But WITH your support, we can become the strong, solid funeral service provider that EVERY family appreciates, during times when our service is most needed, wanted, and appreciated.