Robert L. Clark passed away quietly on Dec. 26 in Johnson City.
Robert was born in Washington, D.C., the first son of Dorothy W. and Richard L. Clark and grew up in the town of Irondequoit outside of Rochester, NY. He graduated from Irondequoit High school in 1954, received a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Cornell University in 1958, and an M.D. from the University of Rochester in 1962. After medical school, Robert spent two years as a medical intern at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and then served two years as a lieutenant in the United States Navy, including one year as a medical officer aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga deployed to the Mediterranean Sea.
Returning to civilian life, Robert completed his residency in ophthalmology at Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester. While a resident, he met Norma P. Kuhlmann, then a nurse at Strong Memorial, and the two were married in 1970. The couple then moved to Miami, FL where Robert completed a fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami. Robert and Norma came to Johnson City in 1972, and Robert practiced ophthalmology as a partner of the Johnson City Eye Clinic for twenty-six years. In addition to his practice, Robert also taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Quillen College of Medicine during its first years. Robert’s skills as a surgeon and commitment to excellence and compassion in the practice of medicine won him broad respect from his patients and his colleagues. For Robert, medicine was not merely a vocation, but a dedication to a ceaseless though humble pursuit of perfection and a commitment to offer care to the very best of his abilities.
In his private life, Robert was well known for his life-long love for fishing and as a life-long student of literature, history, and nature. As a boy, he learned to fish the streams and lakes of his native upstate New York and remembered his earliest fishing trips with his father as among the most cherished memories of his life. In his middle years, he explored the creeks of western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and southwest Virginia and nurtured a growing passion for fly fishing. In time, Robert became an accomplished tier of his own fishing flies, applying the same dexterity and technique he had honed over so many years as a surgeon. Those who knew him understood that, for Robert, fishing was not a simple pastime but a profoundly spiritual retreat, an assay of the natural world and an opportunity to reflect on the shifting currents of life. The same tireless attention to detail, patient pursuit of perfection, and humble acceptance of the limits of his abilities were reflected in Robert’s private pursuits just as in his professional life. The example of his high standards, integrity, and humble striving for betterment remain an inspiration to those who knew and loved him.
Robert is survived by his brother Richard L. Clark of San Francisco, CA, his sons Jeffery L. Clark (Michelle) of Castaic, CA and Daniel S. Clark (Elizabeth) of Pleasanton, CA and two grandsons Andrew and Alexander. They and many others will remember Robert fondly.
The funeral service for Mr. Clark will be conducted Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 2:00 P.M. from the Chapel at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church with The Reverend Douglas Grove-DeJarnett, officiating. Interment will follow in Monte Vista Memorial Park. The family will receive friends prior to service from 1:00-2:00 P.M. at the Church.
Those who prefer to make memorial contributions may do so to The United Way of Washington County 1907 N. Roan St. #409 Johnson City, TN 37601 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at 262 Danny Thomas Place Memphis, TN 38126.