On October 12, 2010, the world lost an amazing person. Willis Stephen Clarke died suddenly after an attack of acute pancreatitis. He was surrounded by his family and friends. In the words of a dear friend “Willis had a seemingly magical ability to bring people together. He didn’t make friends; he made family.” He was 28 years old.
A natural athlete, between the ages of twelve and seventeen Willis spent his summers swimming with the Holmes Run Acres Hurricanes in Falls Church, Virginia where he excelled at the butterfly and leading his team in cheers.
Willis was a 2000 graduate of Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, Virginia where he was active in the Color Guard. He went on to participate on several national competitive color guard teams. He was employed by GEICO until shortly before his death. Although ill, he spent the last few months reconnecting with his inner child and teaching himself how to indulge in the small pleasures of life like video games, photography, music, and pressed coffee.
Willis was preceded in death by his mother Robin Barnes Clarke. He is survived by his father Willis Mackey Clarke, his stepmother Linda Clarke, his stepsister Teresa Robinette and his sister Reva. He is mourned by his many, many friends, his partner Justin Ludwick, his aunts, Addie Stubbs and Brenda Mantz, and his Uncle John who taught Willis how to drive a stick shift.
A celebration of Willis life will be held at Calvary Chapel of Virginia Beach 5228 Indian River Road, behind Kramer Tire Center at 3pm Saturday, October 16.
by Mark Klein written for Willis Clarke
This cry is the sound of a heart
being torn in two. This rumbling
in my chest is the world coming undone.
We now collect our memories
carefully in anthologies. We record
those words as though divine.
Because of these
we are changed forever.
The forests are on fire; they burn
to the ground. Everything is broken
to be restored, new.