F. Eugene Clark of Falmouth, formerly Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University, died Friday, February 28, after a brief illness. He was 94 years of age. His final days were made easier by skilled and compassionate care at Maine Medical Center. Frank Eugene Clark was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in the early morning of September 16, 1919. Somehow, September 15 was recorded on his birth certificate, and his insistence on using the date that his mother had told him ("she ought to know") was a continuing source of confusion for hospital registrars, insurance companies, and several branches of the US government almost a century later....
F. Eugene Clark of Falmouth, formerly Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University, died Friday, February 28, after a brief illness. He was 94 years of age. His final days were made easier by skilled and compassionate care at Maine Medical Center.
Frank Eugene Clark was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in the early morning of September 16, 1919. Somehow, September 15 was recorded on his birth certificate, and his insistence on using the date that his mother had told him ("she ought to know") was a continuing source of confusion for hospital registrars, insurance companies, and several branches of the US government almost a century later. His parents, Arthur and Persis Clark, both came from Maine families that had migrated to Colorado, but resided in several different states in connection with Arthur's employment. As a result, Gene grew up mostly in Connecticut and Tennessee, graduating from the Johnson City (TN) High School in 1936. He attended East Tennessee State Teacher's College for one year, then transferred to Dartmouth College, where he majored in mathematics and graduated in 1941.
Frank (the name he was required to use in the US Army, regardless of what his mother called him) served with the Signal Corps in London, Paris, and Germany from 1942-1945, helping to decode intercepted enemy messages. His wartime experience also provided him with a life-long appreciation for the French language, French cooking, and French wine. After an honorable discharge from the Army, Gene continued his study of mathematics at Duke University, receiving a Ph.D. degree in 1948. At Duke, he also met Lucille Sommer; they were married June 12, 1948, and were rarely apart for the next 66 years.
Gene was Instructor of Mathematics at Tulane University in New Orleans for two years, and then joined the faculty of Rutgers University in New Jersey, rising through the academic ranks to reach the level of Full Professor in 1961. He published a few short articles in scholarly journals, but mostly concentrated his professional time on teaching and administration. His interests were in Abstract Algebra, Topology, Linear Programming, and Statistics, and especially the continuing education of secondary school teachers. He was active in the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey, serving a term as its President, and was a member of several mathematical societies. He was involved with numerous committees at Rutgers, often as chairman.
After a few years living near the Rutgers campus, Gene and Lucille moved to Westfield (NJ), about halfway between Rutgers and New York City, and visited the city often for Broadway shows, classical music, and other cultural activities. They were active in the Westfield Presbyterian Church, singing in the choir, leading youth programs, and serving on many other boards and committees. They had a summer home in Bay Head (NJ) which was a memorable vacation destination not only for their own four children and other family members, but for many friends and colleagues from Rutgers, Westfield, and further away. After swimming in the ocean, or sailing in Barnegat Bay, "Genial Gene" would preside over the preparation of lobster (sometimes a single 10-15 pounder to serve the entire group) or the delicate art of grilling fish "to perfection" over a charcoal fire. Another high point of many summers was a week-long canoe trip with his brother, brother-in-law, and sons.
Gene and Lucille enjoyed traveling and meeting people from other cultures, often in connection with their church work. In 1975-76, Gene spent a sabbatical year as Visiting Professor at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. After retiring from Rutgers in 1985, he also spent a year as Visiting Professor at De La Salle University in the Philippines. Although he sometimes referred to retirement as "the aftermath", he continued to investigate some of the special properties of prime numbers. Gene and Lucille moved to Cumberland Foreside in 1993, closer to three of their four children. They became active in Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland, again singing in the choir and working with youth programs. Gene remained an active outdoorsman, riding his bicycle whenever possible, canoeing the rivers of northern Maine, and climbing Mount Katahdin (at age 76). Despite the colder climate and his advancing years, he preferred to wear short pants from spring until fall and continued his daily swims in the ocean.
Lucille and Gene moved to OceanView in Falmouth in 2006. Although reluctantly admitting to some physical limitations as he passed the age of 90, Gene still solved most of the crosswords, cryptograms, and Sudoku from the newspapers, and was the acknowledged jigsaw puzzle expert at OceanView.
In addition to Lucille, Gene is survived by his older brother Hugh, of Aiken SC, his son David Eugene Clark of Portland, and his daughters Carolyn Heasly of Portland and Margaret Clark of Morristown NJ, as well as seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His younger brother Robert died in 2013, and another son Daniel died in 2005.
A memorial service will be held at the Lodge at OceanView, 20 Blueberry Lane, Falmouth, at 2PM on Thursday, March 6. Contributions in Gene's memory can be made to the OceanView Resident Assistance Fund, at the same address (Box 382, Falmouth 04105).
Care for Gene and his family has been entrusted to the Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home of Portland.