September 23, 2015 Edition
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Victor and Patsy Clark mark the finale of his 70-year career with Clark General Contractors, Inc.
Era ends with
Friday, Sept. 18, marked the ending of an era and a record that few, if any, have matched. Victor Clark of Portia retired on that day after a 70-year career at Clark General Contractors, Inc. in Walnut Ridge.
Victor went to work right after the war with his father and six older brothers at Clark Lumber and Supply in Portia. The sons of Luther and Aurora Corbet Clark, Victor's brothers were Chalmers, Chester, Millard, Lavelle, C. Leroy and Ralph, all of whom are now deceased. Their father, Luther Clark, who lived to be 94, continued working well into his later years.
Chalmers was too old and Victor was too young, but the other five Clark brothers served in the military during World War II. In fact, Chester served as a liason to General Ike Eisenhower during the war.
As the youngest brother on the job, "I was the low man on the totem pole," Victor said. Victor's nephew, C.L. Clark Jr., said that Victor started stacking lumber for the company at the age of 15.
"Things were hard to get right after the war," Victor said. They had to purchase "green" lumber, which had to be dried before using in construction. To obtain roofing shingles, they would have to go to South Arkansas to get them.
Through the years, the company has gone through a few name changes and changes in focus. Having been established on Sept. 4, 1937, the average pay was 10 cents an hour, with the good ones getting 12 cents, C.L. said.
During the war years, the company was out of business but reopened when the Clark brothers returned home. The company started building schools and churches, among other structures and has had its ups and downs, C.L. said.
When Leroy Clark purchased a concrete company from the late Perry Toles, the company changed its name to Clark's Quality Concrete and was located near its present location on Northwest Front Street in Walnut Ridge. Eventually, they would sell the concrete business, and the name became Clark General Contractors, Inc.
C.L Clark Jr. now owns the company. "I enjoyed working with C.L.," Victor added.
Through the years, Victor worked in such areas as delivery, sales and did almost all purchasing and oversaw equipment maintenance. "I'm the early bird man," Victor said. He was usually at the office by 5:30 or 6 a.m., to see the crews off at the start of the day.
"My wife, Patsy, raised our four kids," Victor said. They are the parents of Patricia Tribble, Vickie Mitchell, Mary Clark and Vic Clark Jr. and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on June 25.
"We both worked," Victor said. Patsy worked at Portia City Hall and spent 31 years at the Lawrence County Cooperative School in Portia, where she served as secretary and bus driver.
Victor served 17 years on the Black Rock School Board and has been a mason at Black Rock Lodge 476 for 62 years.
Now age 85, Victor has gone to church and been a member of the Church of Christ all of his life. When he was a child, "mommas took babies" to church. He attended the Black Rock Church of Christ for his first 25 years and has attended the Portia Church of Christ for 60 years.
Victor quietly finished his working career with a lunch celebration at the office on his last day, a day that not only marked the end of a record tenure but the end of his generation's presence in the family business.