On November 25, 2019, Thomas Gail Clark, Jr. slipped the surly bonds of earth after a long struggle with Alzheimer's, his wife Hilary by his side. Tom was born in Enid, OK on June 6, 1941 to Gail and Leota Clark. After the family relocated to Tulsa, Tom attended Lee Elementary and Horace Mann Junior High graduating from Edison High School in 1959. He continued his education at the University of Oklahoma graduating in 1963 with a B.B.A. and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity.
Tom proved to be quite independent at a young age and at 14 moved to Wellington, KS, where his grandparents lived, got an apartment, bought a Model A Ford and found a job for the summer at a defense plant paying $1.05 an hour. While working at the Beech Aircraft plant in Wichita, KS, Tom's father, Gail was recognized by Walter Beech as a man with a charismatic personality and offered Gail a job selling aircraft wherever he wanted to live. Gail chose Tulsa because of his love for football and the University of Tulsa had a great team. It was during this time Tom's passion for flying began and he earned his pilot's license at the age of 17.
Upon graduating from OU, Tom entered the Air Force and was stationed in Del Rio, TX as a flight instructor in the supersonic T-38 jet. The Air Force Air Training Command utilized Tom and his previous flying skills to train pilots in the art of air combat prior to them heading to Vietnam. After his honorable discharge in 1975, he moved back to Tulsa where he set to work learning the family aviation business his father had started in 1945, Tulsair Beechcraft, Inc. However, in 1976, Tom felt the urge to try his hand at film making, so he did a stint in Hollywood to decide if a career at Tulsair was truly for him. During the two years he spent in California, he funded and produced a film called "Black Oak Conspiracy" which he sold to Roger Corman of New World Pictures and was distributed world-wide and on HBO. He always considered it a fantastic experience but decided film making wasn't the life he wanted so Tom returned to Tulsa and started selling Beech aircraft. In 1985, Gail retired, and Tom bought his father's shares and became the sole owner and President and Chief Executive. That same year he met and married Hilary and together, they built the company over the next 34 years. The family legacy will continue on with his grandson, Tom.
Tom was appointed to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents in 2001 and served 14 years before retiring in 2015. Tom was a strong supporter of the University and a member of the Seed Sower Society. He was a loyal and faithful supporter of the OU football program. Over the years Tom logged many flight hours between Tulsa and Norman as well as to many of the away games.
Tom loved Tulsa and gave back to the Tulsa community by serving as President of the Tulsa Boy's Home; Board member of The Salvation Army and as a patron of numerous civic and charitable events. Tom also helped shape the aviation industry by his involvement on several committees. He served on the Oklahoma Film Commission; was a member of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and a member of the Executive Committee of the Tulsa Aerospace Alliance.
Tom was featured as one of the Voices of Oklahoma. Tom shares his memories and life story at https://www.voicesofoklahoma.com/interview/clark-tom/
In 2010, an unlikely opportunity arose, and Tom purchased Tulsa's iconic White River Fish Market and Restaurant on North Sheridan in Tulsa. Then in 2017 added a second location in Broken Arrow; both of which will continue to operate and thrive under Tom's grandson, Tom Cleator and Tom's dear, close friend, J.J. Lester.
Tom loved spending his summers on Grand Lake where he enjoyed boating, a round of golf at the Coves Golf Club and entertaining friends every weekend. He was a member of Southern Hills, The Plantation and Bighorn Golf Clubs in Palm Desert, CA. Tom was an avid duck hunter and loved spending time at his cozy log cabin with fellow hunting buddies, good music, a roaring fire, and his beloved dogs, especially his Black Labrador, Hunter.
Tom and Hilary were fortunate to be able to travel the world throughout their marriage creating many memories, but their most special will always be the time they spent in Italy after Tom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
His parents, Gail and Leota predeceased him as did his son, Thomas Gail Clark, III at age 24 of Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy.
Tom leaves many loving memories with his wife, Hilary; daughter, Carolyn Powers, of Manhattan Beach, CA; grandsons, John Cleator of Los Angeles, Tom Cleator of Tulsa, and Will Powers of Princeton, New Jersey. They all adored their "Grandpa" and will have so many unforgettable memories of the fun times shared with him and his particular brand of humor. He has left an indelible mark on their lives. Tom is also survived by his sisters, Carolyn "Sue" Edwards (Phil) of Enid and Gailyn "Anne" Sadberry (Dan) of Shawnee and his nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank Saint Simeon's Senior Living Community for their incomparable care and support, Carmella Roberts, Joyce Morris, Traci Morgan, and others with First Call who cared for Tom with sincere love and compassion. The advice and support received from Wendy with Purview Life was inestimable. Thank you also to Grace Hospice who tended and ministered to Tom. Last but not least, the loyalty and love which Tieu and Chi Tang shared over the last 25 years. All of them helped make this most painful journey less so because of their devotion to Tom.
Viewing and Visitation will be 5:00 PM 8:00 PM, Monday, December 2, 2019, at Schaudt's Tulsa Funeral Service, 5757 S. Memorial Drive, Tulsa.
Services will be held 1:00PM, Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at Harvard Avenue Christian Church, 5502 S. Harvard Ave., Tulsa, OK., followed by interment at Memorial Park Cemetery next to his son and parents.
If you wish, contributions in Tom's memory may be made to Saint Simeon's Foundation, 3701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Tulsa, OK 74106 or the Alzheimer's Association.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Schaudt's Tulsa Funeral Service. Family and friends may send memories and condolences online at www.schaudtfuneralservice.com
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