Dignity, Integrity & Character Defined Kevin Clark’s Life

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
A crowd of about 500 came to see off Kevin Clark, for whom the Medway High School gymnasium was named in 2007, in his late December memorial service. Submitted photo.
Issue Date: 
February, 2020
Article Body: 

Kevin Clark personified integrity, dignity and high character, he strived for excellence, was humble and had a great sense of humor. His life was devoted to influencing so many people in such positive ways. Those attributes left lasting impressions and were emphasized to a crowd of 500 at a celebration of life service at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall for the Medway High teacher and coach who passed away at 71 on Dec. 7, 2019.
Clark taught health and physical education and he coached football and basketball at Medway High. Married for 44 years, he was the father of three sons and a grandfather to seven. A Needham High graduate, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Plymouth State College and got his masters from Cambridge College.
Although he loved teaching and coaching (the Medway High gymnasium was named for him in 2007), he embraced camping, hiking and history. He and his wife Gwen managed to visit 46 states.
Following are comments from speakers at the Dec. 28 service in Medway and from others who knew and admired his values.

DAVE McSWEENEY, a Medway police lieutenant, played for Clark from 1978-1980 and later coached as his assistant for five years. He labeled Clark as “an iconic figure who exemplified integrity and character and strived for perfection.’’ He compared his mentor to three legendary pro coaches — Vince Lombardi, Bill Belichick and George Allen. “Lombardi demanded discipline and Clark did, too, and they both got it from their players because of repetition. And, both knew how to build confidence in their players. Kevin’s preparation lined up with Belichick’s. Both had their players ready. Allen coached the Redskins and he was paranoid, always thinking that someone was spying on his team. Kevin also was paranoid and often had me checking who was watching our practices.’’ McSweeney ended his remarks by emphasizing that “Clark’s legacy will live on forever.’’

DAVE McMURRAY, a high school friend, related several humorous stories about his classmate but touched those attending with these words: “I wear my tears for Kevin proudly. He loved life and he was the happiest person I knew. He was sincerely interested in all the people he knew.’’

JEFF PIKE, who played football for Clark and later coached on his staff, revealed that he and Clark were not only good friends, but also passionate about Civil War history. “Kevin spoke eye-to-eye to your soul,’’ Pike said. “He could be firm and gentle at the same time, and he was always supportive.’’

BRIAN CLARK mentioned that his father often said: “It’s a great day to be alive.’’ That’s because he loved so many activities. “Although he loved coaching, he also loved history and the outdoors,’’ Brian said. “And, he relished going to our daughters’ dance recitals. He was at his best as a grandfather.’’

JEFF CLARK noted that his father, who coached for 39 years, set high standards. “He coached us in youth sports, and he was the model of selflessness,’’ Jeff said. “His players’ efforts mattered to him. He had a tremendous sense of humor, and his life was complete.’’

CHRIS CLARK mentioned that his father once wrote a letter to him, and the words were quite poignant. “The letter emphasized that “things worth doing don’t come easy and anything is possible, because there’s only one of you.’’

MIKE LAIRD, pastor at the New England Chapel in Franklin, pointed out so many of Clark’s plusses. “I knew Kevin for about seven years but it was obvious he influenced so many people,’’ Rev. Laird said. “He had an old-school ethic. Integrity was important to him, and he had character and patience. The Medway High gym was named for him, but he never displayed any arrogance because of that. He never held a grudge and never got angry. He was committed to prayer, loved God and loved people.’’

GREG HANDEL, an elder at New England Chapel, read a poem, “The Man in the Glass,’’ and revealed that Clark was strong in his faith. Handel quoted scripture when concluding his remarks about Clark. He said: “Well done, good and faithful servant.’’

GWEN CLARK thanked those attending and praised everyone who helped her deal with losing her husband. “Kevin knows that all of you reached out to me and our family,’’ she said. “You all mean something to me and we all know that Kevin died a happy man.’’

JACK O’ROURKE, Millis High’s defensive coordinator, emphasized that Clark “was a kind, terrific guy who coached sports but taught life.’’ O’Rourke recalled the words of his niece’s husband, Jeff Watson, who played for Clark and was the MVP of the Millis-Medway Thanksgiving Day game his senior year. “Clark told Jeff that when you point a finger at someone, three other fingers come back at you,’’ O’Rourke noted. “Jeff taught his two children that lesson.’’

HARRY ROMSEY, former Medway High volleyball coach who won five State championships, labeled Clark as “hard-working and loyal.’’ He also said that Clark had a special relationship with those he coached. “Kevin loved the kids he coached and they loved him.”

ROB PEARL, former athletic director at Medway High, knew Clark as a coach and a teacher to his children. Pearl, who was the master of ceremonies when the high school gym was dedicated to Clark, said: “Kevin was my mentor, a big help when I transitioned to the A.D. job. He had integrity and was respected by the kids.’’

JOE HANLON, who coached football and also served as Medway High’s assistant principal, lauded Clark because “he was easy to like, a lot of fun and so positive.’’