The other day I performed a small but poignant task—removing the name of Louise Clark, who died early Sunday morning, August 21, from my e-mail distribution list for this space.
I married my way into meeting Louise in 2003 by way of the fair Elizabeth Wheeler, sister to Louise’s daughter-in-law, Margaret, wife of her son, Charles. Louise and her husband Johnson (who passed away in 2007), were active citizens of the East Bay city of Lafayette, as this recent video will attest.
To the end, Louise remained involved in her community and the world at large. She and Johnson, as East Bay residents and political activists well know, provided the property for the Lafayette Crosses Memorial, a tribute to the American soldiers who continue to sacrifice and die in our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Shortly after Elizabeth and I attended a Memorial Day Service at the site in 2008, I wrote this essay on my experience of it. She provided a lot of valuable background information for the article. I put Louise on my distribution list.
Louise became one of my more frequent responders. Like everyone who picks through this smorgasbord, she liked some articles better than others, mostly the ones relating to politics: “NASA's James Hansen can tell you why it [CO2 levels and global warming] is more important to blog about than yesterday's music,” she e-mailed after a series of recollections about the music in my life. On a certain level, she was right about this. Then again, I find my articles on social issues to be the weakest of the lot.
Otherwise, her notes to me were greatly appreciative. “DARLING!” she wrote in response to a Winnie-the-Pooh parody. She also sent me a touching note on my piece on the Tōhoku tsunami and earthquake.
In response to this Memorial Day Tribute parody on World War II movies, she commented:
“My participation in The Longest Day was a speech I made standing up during the intermission lamenting the futility of war - much to the embarrassment of my family sitting nearby.”
Surely, I’ve done more embarrassing things.
She informed me that she would pass on reading Dragon's Ark, but that's OK. It's not for everybody anyway.
She once sent a bawdy joke—a video fart joke in fact--via an e-mail list that inspired a mock blushing riposte from me, something along the lines of “Lou-ISE CLARK! Really! At YOUR Age! My word!”
Lifelong Democrat and forthright peace activist, mother of six children, and proto-hippie, Louise Clark remained indefatigable, and never let scorching opposition get her down. Whatever our nuances of disagreement, no matter her activism versus my recessivism, we always enjoyed each other’s company. It won’t be only her family and I who will miss her. The world will, too.
Copyright 2011 by Thomas Burchfield
Photo by author