Colleagues are remembering James A. Clark for the friendly care he gave to his work across campus, his pride in serving his country and his obsession for maintaining pristine ice at Messa Rink. Clark, a stationary engineer who joined Union in 1990, died July 29, 2021. He was 66.
Colleagues called him “Sarge,” a moniker that referred to his devotion to the U.S. Army and playfully described his intolerance for imperfection.
He served 45 years in the U.S. Army, first as a Vietnam era soldier and later in the Army National Guard, when he was deployed at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Known for his organizational and computer skills, he created spreadsheets used to monitor the HVAC systems on campus. Besides his regular duties in ensuring the comfort of students and employees, he took on the 24-hour job of maintaining the ice at Achilles Center’s Messa Rink. When he wasn't on campus, he monitored and adjusted the ice temperature from a laptop computer at his home.
“Jim was not only a dedicated employee, but was also a friend to many in the department,” said Gary Thomas, manager of central utilities and cogeneration. “We all had a personal relationship with Jim on the outside. Jim arranged yearly camping trips with some of the guys, attended Yankee games and exercised on the weekends.”
Thomas said that after Clark was diagnosed with cancer, he continued to work around his treatments to ensure that “everything was in order and that everyone understood how the Achilles ice rink operated. This commitment and courage proved that Jim was a critical asset to his friends and the organization.”
He was a fixture at the rink and a favorite with players, coaches and staff. He never missed a Union hockey game and often traveled to away games.
“We will miss the daily interactions with Jimmy discussing the program and hockey in general,” said Rick Bennett, head coach of men’s ice hockey. “We are grateful for the many upgrades he helped provide in the locker room. As great as Jimmy was in his profession at Union, we respected and admired him for his years of service with the U.S. Army. We will miss Jimmy Clark and what he meant to our program as a friend.”
“Jimmy was always eager to help,” said Josh Sciba, head coach of women’s ice hockey. “He was so committed to seeing the hockey programs have everything that we need to be successful and there was no project that was too big. His dedication was inspiring. Messa Rink continues to be a great facility due in large part to his efforts year round. Our condolences go out to his family as they celebrate his legacy.”
Survivors include his wife, Victoria Mayo Clark; two children; two step-children; and 10 grandchildren.
A memorial is set for Monday, Aug. 23, at 10 a.m. in Memorial Chapel. Masks will be required. Interment will be on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 11 a.m. at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, 200 Duell Road, Schuylerville, N.Y. 12871.
To read the family’s obituary, visit the Applebee Funeral Home website.