Harlow Ward Clarke

By From page A2 | November 30, 2012

Harlow Clarke

May 8, 1921 — Nov. 15, 2012

Harlow Ward Clarke, 91, of Plymouth, Calif., passed away Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Plymouth. He was born in Dover, Colo., on May 8, 1921, the eldest son of the late Francis Merle (Hale) and Harry William Clarke.

Harlow grew up in Manila, Utah, with six brothers and sisters and moved to Chico at 16 during the Depression, where he worked in the beet fields. While attending Chico High School, he experienced his first broken heart when it was discovered his English teacher had an affair with Errol Flynn, who was in Chico filming Robin Hood at Bidwell Park. After graduating from Chico High School he moved to Richmond, Calif., where he worked in the shipyards. In 1941 he married Ramona and they had a son, Dennis.

In May 1944, Harlow was recruited by and joined the U.S. Army as a diver and welder for salvage and repair of sunken ships. Once the war ended he remained in Nagasaki and assisted Japanese civilians in finding bodies of loved ones in waters off the coast. After he was discharged from the Army in January 1946, he returned to Chico to attend Chico State College on the GI Bill. While at Chico State he and his two brothers starred together on the football team.

After two years, Harlow transferred to Cal Berkley, where he acquired his Bachelors Degree in English literature in 1949. He went on to University of Michigan, where he received his Masters Degree in library science in 1951. It was during his time in Michigan that he started writing to Dorothy Williams, who shared his love of literature. They were married on April 15, 1951, in Nevada and settled down in Sacramento.

In the early 50s, Harlow helped set up libraries at the California State Historical Archives in Sacramento and Orange Coast College in Santa Ana before settling into a 28-year career at the Sacramento County Office of Education beginning in 1955. While spending the majority of his career as Director of the Educational Media Center, his primary accomplishments included developing the Audio/Visual Department for all Sacramento County schools and creating a Northern California book buyers guild, which allowed schools to affordably purchase books for their students. He retired in 1983 at the age of 62.

Harlow and Dorothy raised their children, Cyndi, born in 1952, and Brett, born in 1961, along the American River in Sacramento. Harlow loved nature, particularly the mountains, and instilled this love into his children. He also enjoyed history, reading, road trips, watching sports, arguing politics and square dancing. To those that really knew him, they were blessed to have experienced his outlandish and youthful sense of humor, which he also passed on to his children. In retirement, he moved to a ranch in the foothills and would spend his days reading, gardening, walking and spending time with his grandson.

Harlow is survived by his daughter, Cynthia Clarke of El Dorado Hills; son, Brett and his wife, Dana Clarke of Plymouth; sisters, Marie Smith and Elinor Brisbane; brother, Charles Clarke; grandchildren, Tyler, Mona and Denny; and daughter-in-law, Millie Clarke. He was preceded in death by his son, Dennis Clarke; sisters, Mabel DePuy and Doris Lamb; and brother, Henry Clarke.

There will be a private service for family members. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting and signing the guest book.


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