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Tree farmer, engineer Clark dies at 98

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Jack Clark is shown at the 2023 Kirby High School reunion. MICHAEL G. MANESS | TCB FILE PHOTOJack Clark is shown at the 2023 Kirby High School reunion. MICHAEL G. MANESS | TCB FILE PHOTO

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Jack Clark, a sort of modern-day Renaissance Man and Tyler County native, died last Wednesday, at the age of 98.

Clark, who traced his Tyler County roots back to 1855, with his great-grandfather William Clark, and even before the county was established, to 1834, with his great-grandmother Clementine Cruse, was born in the Campground community and grew up in Woodville.

In a profile of Clark published in the Booster May 1, 2014 edition, by Michael G. Maness, Clark was characterized as a man with a soft voice, an easy smile and a friendly demeanor, with a meticulous recall of his life and many accomplishments and adventures.

Last year, at the annual reunion of Kirby High School, he was recognized as the most senior alumnus in attendance, having marked his 81st year since graduating.

At the reunion, he recalled how his senior class grew sweet potatoes and sold them locally.  From the money made, they took a trip to Chicago to watch a baseball game.

Clark graduated from Kirby High School, class of 1942, and joined the Navy after graduation, where he served until his discharge in 1946.

Following his military service, Clark married Mary Frances Moulton in Longview, and the two started a family in Canyon, Texas, and he began college at West Texas State. After later earning a master’s degree in agriculture from Sam Houston State University, he worked various jobs, and in 1959, ended up at Texas Instruments in Richardson, where he started as a technician. He was with TI for 30 years and became a semiconductor processing engineer.

According to local writer and retired NASA engineer Chuck Royston, Clark played a part in one of the greatest technological advances of the 20th century.

While at TI, Clark worked alongside Jack Kilby, who invented the microchip. The two worked closely on the invention, and Clark helped to secure the paperwork evidence and proof to secure a patent. “He was intimately involved in a historical invention that we all use today,” Royston said.

In the profile piece, Clark recalled the advancements in processing power from the time he first began working at TI to when he retired in 1986.

“In the early 1960s, there were 32 to 64 memory spots per circuit in about ¼ inch square. When I retired in 1986, our integrated circuits were 3/8-inch square and had 8,000 memory spots, and they took no more power to process than the circuits of the 1960s,” he said in the article.

He and his wife moved back to Woodville after his retirement and started a tree farm. That 56-acre spread was a part of the original 295-acre tract that his great-grandfather had acquired in 1855. He’d inherited his portion of that original tract in 1931 when he was six years of age.

Clark was also active in the community, in many avenues of service. He taught Sunday School at First Baptist Church in Woodville, and volunteered with the Tyler County Hospital Auxiliary, until he was about 95. He also served on the Tyler County Forest Landowners Association for many years.

One of his passions, as the 2014 article noted, was in serving with the Volunteer Christian Builders group, which he volunteered with from 1988 to 2002, when his wife became ill.

In 2020, he received a special commendation from the TCFL, for which he’d served in many capacities, including vice president.

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