BLAINE - Whatcom County has lost a local historian who also promoted the arts, campaigned for peace and described himself, likely tongue-in-cheek, as "a bit of a troublemaker."
Richard "Dick" Clark died May 26, 2012, at the age of 82. At his request, no services are planned.
Clark died in Bellingham, but he will be remembered as one of the more interesting residents of Blaine. He was a clergyman and a teacher before becoming an author, piano teacher, arts advocate and peace activist.
"People loved him and hated him; it was just a matter of who you talked to," said Steve Agnew of Blaine, a friend. "He was a character, all right. He was a good kind of character."
Clark's parents moved from Wenatchee to a farm near Blaine when he was a young boy. After earning a degree in music from Western Washington University, he graduated from a Baptist seminary in California and took a pastorate in Alberta, Canada.
Because of his theological views - Clark once said he didn't believe in Adam and Eve - he was refused ordination. He next became an Anglican priest in Canada before earning a master's degree in sociology and teaching in California and at military outposts in Alaska.
A lifelong bachelor, Clark later returned to Blaine, where he continued his interest in learning, worked as an editor and columnist for The Record-Journal in Ferndale, and lived in his parent's house a wedge shot away from Peace Arch State Park.
He wrote two local history books, "Point Roberts, USA," and "Sam Hill's Peace Arch," and a memoir, "Riding the Carousel with God." But teaching piano to youths; encouraging the arts, especially music, in Blaine; and working on behalf of peace, and Peace Arch park, anchored his later years.
He once proposed that Blaine change its name to Peace, because of the Peace Arch. That idea didn't fly, but the City Council later passed a proclamation declaring "Promoting Peace" the official community theme.
"World peace was his big thing," said Blaine Clark, a nephew who was named for the city and lives in Oregon. "That was the part that really excited him about the Peace Arch."
A longtime but unpolished piano player, Clark signed up for piano classes at Western when he was 58 so he could become a certified piano teacher. He accomplished that, and honored his support for the program and his friendship with retired music professor Ford Hill by bequeathing his estate to a concert grand piano for campus and to Hill's scholarship fund for piano students at Western.
Agnew said Clark kept his good humor and wit even as death drew near. Clark was asleep in a chair, Agnew said, when a friend entered the room.
Clark woke up and said, "Oh, you caught me deep in my existential thoughts."
"He was making jokes right up to the end," Agnew said.
To remember Richard Clark, people can send memorial donations to the College of Fine and Performing Arts by writing a check payable to Western Washington University Foundation and sending it to: Western Washington University Foundation, c/o Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9034.
Reach DEAN KAHN at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2291.