BOB CLARK: 1944-2008
Clark and his wife, Sandy, have been major supporters of many projects in Port Aransas. Among their contributions was the donation of the land leading to the Port Aransas Community Park. Named Clark Parkway in their honor, the road provides access to the land where the city built the park, the centerpiece of which is the municipal swimming pool.
"Bob Clark would have made a great Santa Claus. He had that big of a heart for giving. I only had to mention my need for land for the community park and he jumped at the opportunity to make it available to the city. He loved Port Aransas," said retired City Manager Tom Brooks.
Brooks, who moved to Goldwaithe after retiring in 2003, said, "On his rare visits to city hall, Bob would stick his head into my office and ask if he could visit for a minute -- not to complain. I do not recall a single time that he came to complain. He was so thankful for the opportunities that were made available to him, and he always left by thanking me for helping. I'm not sure what I did, but I was always glad to hear a kind word. Bob was as good to the city as it was to him."
"Bob loved his community and was a friend to the municipality. He provided us property to have ready for hurricane recovery efforts,
if needed, forts, at no cost, along with property for little league practice fields. He donated funds to sponsor children's swimming lessons, and worked with us in many other projects," Kovacs said.
Clark's children, Kovacs, said, "carry on their father's ideals in community service by volunteering their time on two important city commissions. (Clark's son) Bruce is a major contributor on Planning and Zoning, and Wendy (Clark's daughter-in-law) assists us greatly on the Board of Adjustment and Appeals."
Kovacs said the Clarks' retail businesses "are important to our local economy and the Clark family members are great people and neighbors. We will miss Bob Clark a lot."
Other projects that have been beneficiaries of the Clarks' generosity have been the Port Aransas Boy Scouts, the Port Aransas Youth Council (PAYC), the Port Aransas Education Foundation, the Emergency Services Toy Roundup and St. Joseph Catholic Church.
able to attend college, did, and graduated.
Clark was born in Abbington, Penn. on Oct. 23, 1944, to Margaret and Robert E. Clark Jr., who preceded him in death. He graduated from Ocean City High School in New Jersey and attended Valley Forge Military Academy for two years. He took a trip with his grandfather to decide where he wanted to attend college, and ended up in Denton about the time final registration started for the University of North Texas. Clark liked it, and decided Denton was the place for him.
He had met his future wife, Sandy Ruff, while he was at Valley Forge Military Academy, and they were married in 1966 during his junior year at the University of North Texas.
Sandy Clark joined her husband in Texas, and got her teaching degree. He worked for a short time as a salesman for a souvenir company. He quickly realized that life "on the road" was not for him since it kept him away from his family for too long. But, during his time as a salesman, he recognized that Port Aransas was the perfect place to start his own souvenir store, according to longtime friend Georgie Creighton.
Clark's first store, Sandy's Shirt Shack, opened in Port Aransas in 1972. It was located at the corner of Alister and Beach streets, but moved to Cut-Off Road. Clark was so pleased with the business prospects in Port Aransas that he convinced Sandy it would be much better to work for three months in the summer and have nine months off than it would be to teach school for nine months and have three months off. So, they purchased Sam Allen's old grocery store at the corner of Alister and White streets in 1973 and turned it into a souvenir and t-shirt store called Souvenir City.
In rapid succession the Clarks started The Book Nook, Sand & Surf, The Smuggler, The Connoisseur and The Bikini Attic, all in the White and Alister streets area.
In 1982, they opened a big store, The Islander, at the corner of Alister Street and Avenue G. In 1984, they built Island Sports (in the building that is now home to Island Liquor), the Padre Islander on Padre Island and Treasure Islander in Rockport.
In 1986, they started Padre Island Sports, which is now a restaurant next to the Padre Islander. In 2000, Clark decided that The Islander needed to be larger, so the first building was torn down and the current Islander was built in the same location with the lighthouse in front.
In 2001, the Clarks enlarged the Padre Islander, and in 2005 they decided to expand further south in Port Aransas and built BeachMart at the corner of State Hwy. 361 and Access Road 1A.
The Clarks' children have been operating the stores for the past few years, leaving them more time to travel. They have been to England several times and last summer they visited Alaska. They returned from a trip to Hong Kong two weeks ago.
Clark especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and all of his grandchildren's friends. He made his own birthday party something special for the kids by taking them to Chuck E. Cheese in Corpus Christi to play games while he passed out tokens.
In addition to his wife of 42 years, Clark is survived by his three children, Robert E. "Rob" (Robin) Clark IV; Bruce (Wendy) Clark, and Cassandra Clark; three grandchildren, Harrison Alexander Clark, Hailey Elizabeth Clark and Robert E. "Robbie" Clark V.
A Rosary followed by a Mass was held at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Monday, Dec. 29. Burial was Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 11 a.m. at the Royal Palm Cemetery in Port Aransas.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that expressions of sympathy be made to the Port Aransas Boy Scouts, c/o George Horner, American Bank, 216 S. Alister Street, Port Aransas, TX 78373.