- Last Updated on 08:09 AM 12/04/13
- BY Paula I. Bryant
Mama Bea Clark must have been beaming from Heaven on Thanksgiving Day as dozens and dozens of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren continued a family tradition.
Gathering Thursday at the American Legion hall in South Boston, 79 members of the extended Clark family counted their many blessings while fellowshipping together over a meal that provided many memories of delicious foods their mama used to cook…including the familiar staples of beans and potatoes the children were raised on.
Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for such a large family is no small task, but for the Clarks, it’s nothing out of the ordinary…because growing up, there always was a full table come mealtime in the Clark household.
Robert and Bea Clark, both now deceased, were well known in the South Boston community as the couple with all those kids who lived on Chalmers Street. On Sunday mornings, they could be seen walking to Second Baptist Church where the family of stair-step children filled several pews.
Robert W. Clark and Elsie Beatrice McHaffey Clark were the proud parents of Bobby, Ralph, Zane, Doc, Stanley, Tom, Aubrey (Bear), Barry, David (Peewee), Muffin (Sybil) and baby Cindi.
All these children continue to live in the county with the exception of oldest sibling Bobby who now calls Georgia home and brother Ralph who lives in Kinston, N.C.
Today the sprawling family has grown to include spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Let’s see if we can get this right…
The eldest son, Bobby Jr., and his wife, Diane, have three children, Amy, Robert Aaron and Abby.
From Bobby’s family, the Clark great-grandchildren include Avery, Ansley, Ryan, Cayci and Nathan.
Next in line is #2 Clark son, Ralph, who married Edith. They have two children, Yvette Downs and Sherri Goodwin, and from Ralph’s family, the Clark great-grandchildren include Brittany, Brandon, Logan, Caroline and Spencer.
Zane is the #3 Clark son, and he married Martha who is better known as Lulu. They have two children including Randy and Ricky. And from Zane’s family, the Clark great-grandchildren include Josh, Julia and Leighton.
Number 4 son is Stanley who is married to Dianne. They have three children including Brandy, Jordan and Daniel. From Stanley’s family, the Clark great-grandchildren include Landon and Macon, Cooper and another on the way due in March.
And then there is Doc, the fifth child born as Lloyd E. Clark.
Doc’s children include Lloyd E. Jr., “Little Doc,” and Jeremy Clark. From Doc’s family, the great-grandchildren include Jamie, Kathrine and Tyler.
After five boys, the Clarks finally had a precious little baby girl named Sybil who was quickly nicknamed “Muffin.” Muffin grew up and married Doug Blanks, and they are the parents of Joncie and Michael. From Muffin’s family, Clark great-grandchildren include Morgan and Mollie.
Lucky #7 in the Clark clan is David, who shortly after birth was nicknamed “Peewee.” Peewee married Rebecca who everyone knows as Billie.
Peewee and Billie have two children, Christopher and Christiana. And from Peewee’s family, Clark great-grandchildren include Levi with another on the way due in April.
Thomas Clark is the eighth offspring of Robert and Bea Clark, and he married Rita. Together they have four children including Joy, Rachael, Phillip and Amanda. From Thomas’ family, the Clark great-grandchildren include Thomas and Michael.
Aubrey Clark is #9 child, and he grew up to become known as Bear (like in Smokey the Bear) since he enjoyed a smoke or two too many in school and soon found himself kicked out for smoking, according to his siblings who always seem to remember things like that.
Bear married Donna, (whom we are indebted to for providing us this long list of Clark kin), and they have two children, Benjamin (Ben) and Jennifer. And from Bear’s family, there is one great-grandchild, Adam.
Barry is the next to last child to be born to the Clarks, and he has one son, Zachary (Zach). And from Barry’s family, there is one Clark great-grandchild named Piper.
And last but not least is Cynthia, the Clark child who we remember growing up with. Cynthia married David Owen, and they have three children, Blake, Jake and Samantha.
From Cyndi’s family, the Clark great-grandchildren include Abbie, Jayden, Makinley and Mason.
Whew! I believe that’s the entire crop of Clark offspring … for now anyway.
As this group of Clark siblings and their numerous progeny gather each Thanksgiving Day to share memories and give thanks, they count their many blessings. One of the greatest blessings is this sprawling family still takes time to rekindle that spirit of family togetherness despite the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
They know what it is like to be loved and cared for in a family that has overcome life’s minor inconveniences, like only having three bedrooms and one bathroom for 13 people to share.
Anyone who knows any of these Clarks will tell you they all know the meaning of hard work. It’s an ethic that is sadly lacking in today’s world, but not in the Clark household where Mama Bea was busy at home rearing 11 children born over a span of two decades, while their father went off to work all those years at Halifax Cotton Mill, C&K and Harris Teeter.
As multiple generations of the Clark family gathered Thanksgiving Day, the youngest Clark sibling summed up what being a large family is all about: “It’s all about making memories and honoring mama and daddy.”
And that, the Clark children have done well.