James Clark

Monday, November 16, 2020

Jim Clark, 86, of Rogers, Arkansas, died at Mercy Hospital on November 13, 2020, after suffering a heart attack. This was his second heart attack, his first having occurred 47 years before.

James Howard Clark was born in Carroll County, Arkansas on January 4, 1934 to Marion (Dock) and Ona Mattox Clark. He grew up in and around Eureka Springs, one of five children raised by a single mother as the area progressed through the Depression.

Having completed the credits for graduation and becoming restless, and as his mother was beginning college at the University of Arkansas, Jim left high school at the age of 16 and began college classes as well. He graduated with a History degree and participated in ROTC. After graduation he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, and the Army sent him to Fort Benning, Georgia. In the service, he was assigned to work on the post newspaper, an assignment which would permanently shape who he was to become.

After discharge, Jim continued in the newspaper business, first briefly in Nebraska, then taking a job with the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock. Jim worked as a copy editor and eventually left as the assistant news editor, present for and participating in its coverage of the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis and its aftermath in Arkansas politics. In 1966, Jim moved to Bentonville, taking a position with Cooper Communities, to run the newspaper it produced for Bella Vista. In 1968, he went to work in the News and Information Department of the University of Arkansas, never missing a day there in his thirteen years.

Following a path blazed by his son, he entered law school at Fayetteville in 1981. Jim treated law school like a job and was a diligent student, and that along with the writing skills he had honed as a newspaperman led him to having a fine academic record and being selected for the Arkansas Law Review. After graduation in December 1983, and passing the bar exam early in 1984, Jim entered the private practice of law in Bentonville, partnering with his son at Clark & Crabtree. Jim represented clients on a broad range of issues, and later served as a part time Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Carroll County.

Following the death of his first wife, Dixie Clark, and weary of some of the aspects of private law practice, in 1997 Jim left private practice and took a full-time position as the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Rogers. He "retired" from that position in 2004 returning to do the daily crossword puzzle and practice a little law with his son at what by that time was Clark & Spence. During that period, he was elected to and served on the Rogers City Council. Jim left private practice again in 2008 to reprise his role as Deputy City Attorney for a period, "retiring" again from that in 2014.

In April 2014, Jim was appointed by Governor Beebe to serve as the Prosecuting Attorney for the 19th Judicial District-West (Benton County) filling the open position for seven months after which time he "retired" again. Jim's final call to service was when the Rogers City Council appointed him as its City Attorney in August 2015, filling the open position for sixteen months after which time he finally was fully “retired.”

While Jim was a fine lawyer, he thought of himself at least as much as being a newspaperman. And Jim was a Yellow Dog Democrat. He participated in local politics having assisted several friends in runs for office and having run and been elected to the Bentonville City Council in the 1980s and the Rogers City Council in the 2000s.

In his "retirements," Jim took a keen interest in politics and the issues of the day. He was a regular reader of and active contributor to the Arkansas Times Blog as "plainjim." After Jim transitioned to become part of the Rogers community, and into his retirement, Jim became a fixture at Ozark Fence in Rogers being faithful in his attendance for choir practice and was a regular for many years on Whitey's Chicken Cookin’ Crew.

Jim was a member of First United Methodist Church in Rogers, and taught Sunday school there in his later years – something that likely would have surprised his younger self.

Jim's parents predeceased him as did two sisters, Louise Berry and Madge Terrill. Jim is also predeceased by his first wife, the former Dixie Lee Stacy.

Jim is survived by his wife, Sharon (Adamson) Clark of the home; his son Greg Clark and wife Karen, of Bentonville; his daughter, Stacy Clark of Bella Vista; two sisters, Joanna Mickey of Phoenix AZ and Nancy Clark of Eureka Springs; three grandsons, Lucas Clark and wife Allison of Cave Springs, Adam Clark and wife, Jessica, of Centerton, and Chase Clark and wife Sarah, of Decatur; his step-son Todd Parker and wife Kate of California; step-daughter, Stacey Parker and husband Kyle Hickey of Utah, and step-daughter, Lesley Fry and husband, Jay Hunter Fry of Rogers. Jim is also survived by eight great-grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

Jim's earthly remains will be cremated, and the family will spread his ashes as he had requested. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Circle of Life Hospice, 1201 NE Legacy Pkwy, Bentonville, AR 72712 or the Frank & Barbara Broyles Alzheimer’s Foundation, 3810 N. Front St, Suite 3, Fayetteville, AR 72703. 

Many were lucky enough to call Jim a friend and he relished any excuse to spend time with them. But not for COVID, we all would be gathered to celebrate the life of this giant of a gentleman. When possible, a celebration of life will be planned. And there will be stories - lots of them. In the meantime, raise a glass, and remember Jim.