James Lawrence Clark, affectionately known as Captain Clark, began his life's journey on December 27, 1946, in Lawrenceville, VA. Raised by his loving mother, Viola Putney Wright (deceased), he moved to Washington, DC, at the age of four and found a forever home with Joseph M. Clark (deceased) and Augusta Ann Putney Clark (deceased).
Educated in the heart of Washington, DC, Captain Clark attended Brown Elementary School and proudly graduated from Eastern High School.
A man of faith, he discovered the Episcopal tradition at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, where he lent his voice to the choir and served as an acolyte. His high school years revealed a love for music as he learned to play the saxophone.
A talented athlete, Captain Clark played football, achieving star status at Susquehanna University until a fateful injury altered his trajectory.
Post-college, he ventured into the workforce, starting with Texaco Gas Co. and later managing a Highs Convenience store.
It was during this time that he met and married the love of his life, Hercule E. Ballard, on June 29, 1969. They celebrated 54 years of marriage and shared a life blessed with three children: Karen D. Clark-Reddon (Cornell), Christopher Lawrence Clark, and Jamie Armand Clark.
The Clarks chose to build their family in Glenarden, Maryland, where Captain Clark became an integral part of the community. Roles such as Code Enforcer and co-manager of the Glenarden Gold Room showcased his commitment to service.
A dedicated family man, he coached football, not just as a sport but as a medium to impart life lessons. His involvement extended to the Civil Air Patrol, where he rose to the rank of Captain, mentoring youth with dedication. On many camping trips, Captain Clark could be heard using a call-and-response cadence to teach basic outdoor survival skills:
What do you do if you get wet?
You get dry!
What do you do if you get cold?
You get warm!
What do you do if you get hungry?
In the wider community, Captain Clark volunteered with countless organizations. Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. and Top Teens of America called him Lord James Clark, a title that he wore with pride. He fed the homeless, supported local campaigns, and contributed to the International Association of Correctional Officers (IACO) and the Prince George's County Correctional Association (PGCOA) where he was elected President.
His entrepreneurial spirit led to the founding of KarChrJam Inc. (formerly called T.F. Branches), a catering company reflecting his devotion to family. Captain Clark's leadership took him internationally, accepting an award in China for revolutionizing correctional facilities.
In a pivotal role back in Prince George's County, he collaborated with local officials for 17 years, advocating for a library and credit union to enrich the community in Bowie, MD. His perseverance resulted in a groundbreaking project that left a lasting legacy for residents to enjoy.
In his final years, Captain Clark returned to Lawrenceville, VA finding peace in the place of his birth. Captain James Lawrence Clark's legacy is one of multifaceted contributions— an athlete, musician, mentor, entrepreneur, and community leader, leaving behind a tapestry of compassion, resilience, and generosity.
Captain Clark was preceded in death by his parents Viola Putney Wright, Augusta Ann Putney Clark, Joseph M. Clark, brother Samuel Wright, and sister Alice Crutchfield.
He leaves to cherish his memories his devoted wife, three children (listed above), four grandchildren: Kaelyn, Ashton, Yasmin, and Jamara, brother David Wright (Amy), sister Barbara Brown (Robert), sister Sandra Franklin, brother-in-law Edward Ballard Jr. (Kathy), sister-in-law Myrtle Nsekela (Constantine - deceased), sister-in-law Seaquett Williams (Johnnie Sr.), brother-in- law Michael Ballard Sr. (Joan), sister-in-law Jacqueline Jones (Larry), sister-in-law Debra Chiles (Clifford Sr. - deceased), brother-in- law Kent Ballard Sr. (Linda), brother-in-law Robert Ballard, sister-in-law Dr. Gybrilla Blakes (Gary), brother-in-law Oddie Ballard, brother-in-law Craig Ballard, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, and friends.
A time of viewing and visitation with the family will be held from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Saturday, December 16, 2023 at Williams Funeral Home & Crematory in Lawrenceville, VA, followed by a memorial service at 3:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in his memory may be made to Lake Country Area Agency on Aging, 1105 West Danville Street, South Hill, VA 23970.