Ross Clark Has Lived an Amazing Life 

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My dad was born in Greenville (across the road from Bear’s Mill). And just like Ross Clark, pops was one of eleven kids. Also, like Mr. Clark, dad was born at home.

Ross Clark and his twin brother were born in 1922, my father followed closely behind. He was born in 26. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there are a boat load of us Clarks that sprouted to life in Darke County’s rich soil and for all I know I may be related (somehow/someway) to Ross.  Anyway – it’s a pretty cool story, one I had not heard prior. I hope you enjoy it.

GREENVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – recently, while many of us were still trying to dig out from all the snow and ice from our most recent winter storm, there was a big party in Greenville. It was a celebration, 100 years in the making, honoring the 100th birthday of Darke County’s own Ross Clark.

To say Clark lived an interesting life might be the understatement of the century.

“We were born in a house upstairs,” Ross recalled. “Dad couldn’t take us to the hospital.” On February 5, 1922, Ross and his brother Bob became the first of four sets of twins born to his parents. In all, there were 11 Clark kids.

“You know we really didn’t fight very much,” Ross said. “But as little boys, I remember at Christmastime Dad would set us down and give us each a piece of chocolate. No toys. He just couldn’t afford them.” But a lack of toys did not mean boredom. The Clark Twins formed their own basketball team and were discovered by the Harlem Globetrotters. Eventually, they traveled with the team, playing against them in games all around the world.

“I like sports,” Ross said. “I like watching the Olympics, especially the guys on sleds. Have you ever seen that? They must go 100 miles an hour.”  Speaking of the Olympians, Ross met Jesse Owens in 1951 at the Berlin Stadium when the Globetrotters and Twins played before a record-setting crowd. The pair remained friends for decades.  But Ross kept his own athleticism under wraps when it came to his kids and friends.

“He didn’t let me know about it until I was about 16 or 17,” his son, Terry Clark said. “He never mentioned how important his life has been. But once I found out about it, I started letting everyone know about how great a guy he is.”

Ross served in the Army Air Corps in Panama during World War Two, came to Dayton to work at Wright Patt, went on a blind date, and proposed six weeks later under the wing of a B17. He and his wife, Jackie, were married for 67 years.  “I feel humbled,” Ross said. “Why me, you know?”  Ross feels exceedingly grateful for the full life he has lived.   There’s the story about Ross being hit by a car, breaking his neck, and winding up in a full body cast for six months. Or when he and Jackie went off to Africa on a two-month mission trip – and stayed for two years.  His kids say Ross’s story doesn’t end here. They’re already planning a bash for his 105th birthday.

Greenville has a fascinating history of stories like Ross Clark’s. Greenville, with her rich heritage and historical significance, has produced more than its share of influential people, and shakers and movers.  I didn’t appreciate how great it was to grow up in Darke County until I left her safe embrace to fight the Vietnam War.  The contrast between Nam and Greenville could not have been more drastic – Greenville was like growing up in Mayberry and Nam was like living in Hell.  I am thankful for surviving the war and even though I did not return to Greenville to live after my discharge, I have visited home on countless occasions, and I will always love G-Ville for her many virtues and unique qualities.

I loved growing up in Greenville.  Back in the day, living in G-Ville was like growing up in a Norman Rockwell painting.  My numerous misadventures were mostly benign in nature and seem pretty tame by today’s standards.  Sheriff Andy Taylor kept the city safe and secure.  Mayberry’s local law enforcement personnel were helpful and pleasant. In short, I owe Greenville a great debt.  Coming of age in a safe milleu, like Darke County provided me with the tools necessary to fight and survive war.  During rocket and mortar attacks I would often think about back home as a safe place for me to return to, provided I survived the war – which I did, I’m happy to report.

Chat with yawl later.