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1928 Richard 2022

Richard Irving Clark

July 17, 1928 — October 12, 2022

Richard Irving Clark was born July 17, 1928 in Kuling, China of missionary parents and died on October 12, 2022 at the age of 94 in Berrien Springs, Michigan.


Richard spent the first twelve years in China mostly in Hankow across the Yangtze River from Wuhan and the Wuhan Sanitarium and Hospital of Seventh-day Adventists. In those days, China had been wracked by civil war and later Japan invaded China from the north.


When only eighteen months old he contracted polio. Just before leaving for Shanghai to get medicine for the hospital, Dr. Leslie Butke told his wife that he didn’t believe that “Little Billy” would be alive when he returned. That night the doctor’s wife and Richard’s mother bathed him in warm baths all night long. His life was saved.


In 1937 the situation in China began to worsen as the Japanese attacked Hankow more frequently until finally it was decided to send the women and children on an international train to Hong Kong. After the Japanese takeover the families returned to their posts but while enroute Richard came down with a second strain of polio in Shanghai. This time he was left with a permanently altered gait and hand tremor and general muscular weakness.


The family was eventually forced to leave China in December 1940 and landed in San Francisco in January 1941. They made their home at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California.


Richard’s parents were educators, which took them to San Diego Academy in Southern California. From San Diego, Richard attended La Sierra College. He took religion classes intending to become a minister but partway through college was reminded of a childhood dream to become a missionary to the forbidden country of Tibet. He knew he could not gain entrance as a gospel minister so he continued his religion classes but added a chemistry minor and entered Loma Linda University, then the College of Medical Evangelism, to take medicine.


At the end of his freshmen year, he married Virginia Marie Osgood, whom he had met at La Sierra. Richard did a one year internship at Washington Sanitarium and Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, then moved his little family, now with baby Malcolm, to Bath, Maine, where he joined Dr. Marion Westermeyer in general practice. The Westermeyer family would become an important part of Richard’s life. One of their daughters, Bethany, married Dr. Tom Mullen and together they served with Richard and Virginia at Sheer Memorial Hospital in Banepa, Nepal as missionaries.


In Nepal, Richard joined Dr. Keith Sturges at Sheer Memorial Hospital. By now the Clark family had three children and a year later they took a small Nepali boy into their home. Richard reached the border of Tibet but never entered, although Sheer Memorial Hospital served many Tibetan refugees who had fled across the Himalayan Mountains.


Nine years were spent in Nepal, followed by two years in India. In 1978 the family returned to the States where Richard joined a medical group in Sonora, California. The hand tremor resulting from Richard’s bout with polio began to affect his medical practice, so he returned to Loma Linda to study preventative medicine with the goal of lecturing.


In 1987, Richard and Virginia answered a call to join the work in the Republic of Ireland. Richard pastored a small church and Virginia taught classes 1–6 for the children of new believers. Everything took place in their home in Newmarket-on-Fergus. They spent four years in the Republic of Ireland and four years in Northern Ireland. Richard carried his medical training with him by lecturing on stop smoking plans. He was a guest lecturer at the University of Belfast and also spoke on the radio.


Richard was called out of retirement to return briefly to Nepal and later Ireland. He then served as an interim pastor for the Michigan Conference in Bristol, Mesick, Manton, Edenville, and Estey. They often traveled in blizzards, where they could barely see the road, and loved the excitement of the weather. He finally retired after serving for four years as associate pastor of the Stevensville Church in Stevensville, Michigan with Pastor Stan Hickerson. He and Virginia visited new members, gave Bible studies, and encouraged the discouraged. After full retirement, Richard and Virginia joined the Village SDA church in Berrien Springs in 2013.


It can be said that Richard loved to move, to go wherever God called him, packing and unpacking, and getting organized in a new place. Meeting the next challenge for the work of the Lord was his joy. He was a man of faith. He would often say “Can I help you?”


In spite of polio forcing him to live mostly a sedentary life, he went on a 150 mile trek on the Everest trail in Nepal, and traveled by train across India to visit hospitals and encourage them in their humanitarian work. He had a positive attitude toward life and people. He loved the mission of the Adventist church and supported it by his funds and his life work.


His family meant everything to him and they surrounded his bedside when he died. Dr. Clark is predeceased by his parents, Benoni and Phyllis (Sargent) Clark, and his brothers Willard, Harold, and Winston. He is survived by Virginia, his wife of sixty-nine years; his children Malcolm (Cindy), Kelvin, Constance Gane (Roy), and Danny Moktan (Devika); grandchildren Dustin (Sandra) Clark, Samantha Abbott (Andrew), Sarah Gane Burton (Kevin), Caleb Moktan, and Josiah Prem Moktan; and two great-grandchildren.


A memorial service will be held (and livestreamed) at Village SDA Church in Berrien Springs, MI on December 4, 2022 at 11:00 AM. He will be buried at Union Cemetery in Berrien Center, MI. Memorial contributions may be made to Adventist Frontier Missions. The Allred Funeral Home is assisting the family: www.allredfuneralhome.com.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Village Seventh-day Adventist Church

635 Saint Joseph Avenue, Berrien Springs, MI 49103

The service will be also be livestreamed.

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