Thousands say ‘goodbye’ to late Niles councilman

Published 9:32 am Thursday, December 3, 2015

Leader photos/CRAIG HAUPERT Pallbearers carry the casket of Scott Clark onto the bed of a Clark's Service flatbed tow truck Wednesday.

Leader photos/CRAIG HAUPERT
Pallbearers carry the casket of Scott Clark onto the bed of a Clark’s Service flatbed tow truck Wednesday.

The words “generous” and “passionate” were used repeatedly by friends and family in describing long time Niles City Councilman Scott Clark, who passed away Friday at the age of 57.

Friend Kevin Runyon, who officiated Wednesday’s funeral service, said more than 3,000 people said goodbye to the sixth-generation Niles native during Tuesday evening’s visitation — one of the largest gatherings ever at Brown Funeral Home.

“It speaks volumes to how well he was loved,” Runyon said.

Scott C. Clark

Scott C. Clark

City Manager Ric Huff said Clark was his friend and boss for 28 years. From day one, Huff said Clark pushed him to be a better person and employee.

“When I fell short he was the first one to tell me I fell short and he never really quipped about the words of why,” he said. “But he was also the first person that would grab you and pick you up, dust you off, point you in the right direction and push you toward your next accomplishment.”

Clark’s “explosive” passion for Niles and its children, Huff said, could be seen in projects he helped to facilitate, like the skate park off Front Street, the Veteran’s Memorial in Riverfront Park and the modern amenities at Thomas Stadium.

Huff also said Clark was a strong proponent of quality public safety in addition to being fiscally responsible.

“[He would say] it is our responsibility to protect the city’s general fund and protect the legacy of the city. He took that incredibly to heart.”

In addition to being a councilman, Clark ran a successful auto repair/towing service for more than 30 years.

He was well known, friends said, for fixing vehicles and not charging the owners if they were unable to pay.

“His business was as much about caring for people as it was about fixing cars,” said nephew Brian Spence, who induced both laughs and tears when reading a list of what he learned from his uncle.

Spence said his uncle taught him four letter words, that a 16-ounce steak was just an appetizer and that Google Maps was wrong when it said it takes three hours to get to Detroit — it only takes two.

“Behind that intimidating bark was a big teddy bear,” Spence said. “Seeing all these people I learned that he has touched the lives of thousands of people.”

Clark’s compassion did not end at the garage. It extended to the youth baseball field where friends said Clark would buy sporting equipment and apparel for kids who could not afford it.

“I lost track of how many pairs of shoes and baseball gloves that man bought for the members of the various teams he coached over the years,” said best friend Gordon Landon, who said he shared with Clark the common values of faith, family, work ethic and cars.

Landon said Clark was more helpful than a YouTube video when it came to fixing cars and that his friend could have been a NASCAR driver if he wanted to.

“I often thought it was possibly the eighth wonder of the world that he had an unblemished driving record,” he said. “If you took that shotgun seat you knew you were going some place in a serious hurry.”

In a fitting tribute, pallbearers carried Clark’s casket out of the funeral home and placed it on the bed of one of his own flat bed tow trucks. A few feet away, several other tow trucks from competing businesses lined up their vehicles on the side of the street as a show of respect.

Clark’s wife, Jacque, thanked everyone for the outpouring love and support she and her family have received over the past few days.

“The community’s response to our collective loss comforts our family deeply and is a testament to Scott’s impact on us all,” she said. “Hold him in your thoughts and prayers as we celebrate his life. Help us honor his legacy by paying it forward through acts of kindness and compassion which remain his hallmark.”