September 24, 1937 – September 11, 2012 (74 years young)
Jack E. Clarke was born September 24, 1937 in Fernie to John (Jack) and Helen (Hark) CLARKE. Most of his childhood was spent in Fernie but he also lived in Trail, Cranbrook, Crowsnest and Grasmere. He had so many happy memories and stories about his adventures and exploits with his mom and dad, young friends and cousins. When he was 11 years old, his sister Marilyn arrived, and she adored her big brother with his big smile and the mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Jack loved to catch a ride with the “mail lady” to Grasmere to help out on his Grandma Hark and Uncle Tony’s farm. This is where his interest and love of horses originated and continued throughout his life. He attended school (sometimes) in Fernie, until grade 8 when he left school to work for the Department of Highways as a scaler and weighmaster.
In 1956 Jack married his forever best friend and the love of his life, Frances Smith. Over the next ten years they enjoyed the arrival of their five children, son Jackie, and daughters Debbie, Shelly, Kim and Susan.
During the years Jack worked as a logging and lumber truck driver at Gold Creek, Newgate, Elko, Fernie and Galloway. He also drove low-bed, freight, fuel, gravel and various highway trucks around Western Canada and the USA. He loved truck driving and it was the life he chose. He has probably driven and had intimate knowledge of most roads in the East and West Kootenays and as far North as Grande Prairie and Slave Lake. Jack Clarke still holds the record for hauling the heaviest load of logs into the Elko Mill. He also hauled the highest load in to Galloway where he tore down the 24’ power lines at Bull River! Jack had enough stories to fill volumes about his trucking experiences.
In spare time Jack and Frances operated Wigwam River Guide and Outfitters. He was the first guide and outfitter on the Wigwam River territory. With the help of his dad and son, he built a huge larch lodge, guest cabins, hay barn and corrals. It is still the original lodge that stands today.
The family then built the FJ Whippletree Ranch at Morrissey, clearing the land, building a home, bunkhouse and extra-large barn. Over the years they raised everything from chickens and turkeys to pigs and calves and also a few rabbits that multiplied to about 200 and they had to be relocated! They also raised mules and horses, including draft horses. The family became good team drivers and never missed a Sandpoint Draft Horse Show. Jack remembered the names, traits and personalities of every horse he ever rode or encountered and he took great pride and joy in sharing his love and knowledge of horses with his children and others. He was always very partial to his Appaloosas. He rebuilt wagons, sleighs and horse-drawn farm equipment for use on their ranch. He also used the wagons and sleighs for hayrides at Morrissey and the Ski Hill. Jack and his family were active members of the Snow Valley Wranglers and enjoyed participating in gymkhanas, pot-luck dinners and dances. They hosted many trail rides in the back country and to his cabin in the Wigwam.
Jack was a cowboy at heart and was at home sitting around a campfire or riding his horse. He also liked to do a little fishing in his “other” spare time and caught Dollys in the Wigwam and the Flathead. His best fishing was in Likely, BC with his dad and son. The three Jacks caught more fish than a low-bed could haul! The family have very fond memories of the time that Jack rented a motorhome and they travelled to Disneyland and points south where Jack could show his kids the “western” history of the U.S. Jack found that he loved roaming around in the motorhome and so when he retired they bought one. Jack and Frances were free spirits travelling to the Okanagan, California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico. For a while they lived in the Baines Lake area but soon moved back to his stomping grounds in Fernie.
Jack was lucky to be spoiled by the women in his family! His mother, sister, wife and daughters thought “he walked on water” and ironically his initials were J.C. Jack loved his family and was proud of them. He had a genuine interest in their lives and activities. His grandkids were very special to him. He never missed a family gathering and was always looking forward to the next one, where he would “tell more stories”. There will never be another you.
Jack lost many people in his lifetime that he missed dearly but the tragic loss of his son Jack Jr. in 2010 was a devastating blow to him and his family.
Probably one of Jack’s best remembered attributes was his enthusiastic ability to “tell a story”. He was an avid storyteller and historian and if there was anything you wanted to know from “way back when”, just ask Jack. He remembered so many interesting details about people that crossed his path or places he lived, or worked or visited. He had a knack for turning a difficult situation into a funny story. He always had a story to tell. Hopefully we will continue to tell his stories, keeping some of the “color and personality” he delivered with them.
Jack had friends from many trails in life – childhood friends and cousins, fellow truckers, cowboy partners, snowbird travellers, coffee buddies, his Trinity Lodge neighbours, and his friends at dialysis. Jack seemed to remember everyone that he met along the way. He was always ready and willing to take a drive “somewhere” – maybe the coffee shop, Eureka, Blairmore, Kalispell, the Okanagan, the Flathead, Wigwam or “just a drive”.
Jack loved life (and dogs, horses, trucks, Johnny Cash, John Wayne & western movies, friends and family) and tried to live it to the fullest right to the end. And, he “did it his way”. So, Jack Clarke, you were bigger than life, and your strong spirit will live in our hearts forever. “Who’s going to fill your boots?” Happy trails to you until we meet again.
Jack was predeceased by his son Jackie, and his parents John (Jack) and Helen Clarke.
Jack is survived by his loving family: wife Frances, sister Marilyn (Lorne) Earl, his daughters: Debbie (Dave) Warner, Shelly (Phil) Bradshaw, Kim (Cam) McDonald, and Susan (Gary) Dixon. His grandchildren: Erin, Marlee (Preston), Jamie, Lindsay (Chad), Cody (Staci), John Ross (Caitlin), Katie, Colter (Jan), Skye, Becka (Clint) and Clayton, great grandchildren: Lee, Lane, Aspen, Dylan, Kinslee, Benny, Ayla, and Kade as well as many special nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Arrangements entrusted to Cherished Memories Funeral Services Ltd. Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at www.cherishedmemoriesfs.com