Bob Clark Celebrates His 100th Birthday

Bob Clark (Photo contributed by Clark’s daughter, Cheri Deaton)

Robert “Bob” Martin Clark at the age of 19 enlisted in the United States Navy.

Clark was assigned to the Naval Intelligence Office on Mare Island where he was part of the personnel reduction and was sent to the regular Naval Reserve and went through Boot Camp.

Clark never received a physical examination as part of his enlistment. This became a notable issue when he noticed that he could not stand the physical demands of boot camp, he started to complain to his superior officer about his left leg and foot.

The Boot Camp doctor told Clark that if he had been examined during his enlistment, he would have found out that one leg was shorter than the other.

However, Clark was not discharged from service due to the leg disability.

He went to Southern California to obtain transport on the battleship USS New Mexico to Pearl Harbor. In Pearl Harbor, Clark was placed in “Holding” for unassigned Navy guys.

Clark was then personally summoned by the Band Master to join the USS New Mexico as a permanent member of the band.

Clark’s regular job was in the band. He played the baritone and also played the slide trombone in the dance band when needed.

On its second trip to the South Pacific, The USS New Mexico was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze plane.

Clark was below the decks and was manning communications for the Medical Station. That is when Clark heard a loud crash and told the Chief Medical Officer that he had been hit.

This attack had hit the superstructure of the ship, killing the Captain, and 32 other men.

Clark spent his time on the deck talking to men lying on stretchers to try to keep them calm.  He saw many horrific things, but has stated that he forgot much of that day “on purpose”.

Clark was discharged from the Navy in good standing at the end of his Tour of Duty in November of 1945.

After Clark was discharged from the Navy in 1945, he and his wife, Frances, drove home to Fresno.

Bob was heavily involved in the community and always wanted to help. He served on the Board of EECU before they built the Barstow Branch building at Fresno Street.

Clark was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and was also the Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts at Birney Elementary School. Clark also invested hours of time every year getting his children ready to participate in the Fresno Christmas Parade every year.

Clark has been performing with the Sounds of Freedom since their inception in 1984.

He was in that band when it started and it wasn’t even called the “Sounds of Freedom” yet.

In 2010, Bob’s wife, Frances, moved to a rest home due to health complications where she passed away three years later.

After the passing of his wife, Clark moved to Carmel Village in Clovis which is the Assisted Living Facility where he currently resides.

In November of 2018, Clark lost his son due to a heart attack. Clark now has three living daughters, six grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, Robert Martin Clark turned 100 years old. His daughter, Cheri Deaton had a birthday for her father on Sunday evening at the Retired Teachers Education Center.

“We had a rip roaring birthday party for my dad yesterday with almost 200 people in attendance.  He has led an amazing life during his century on this earth,” said Deaton

Brooke is a senior at Fresno State double majoring in Communication and Media, Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. Brooke is a senior at Fresno State double majoring in Communication and Media, Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. Brooke has a passion for storytelling and community. Brooke has experience in print news working for Oakdale Leader and The Collegian, as well as broadcast news by doing Fresno State Focus TV. She is also a student member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and takes part in the Youth Advisory Council for ABC30. Brooke is currently focusing on multimedia journalism for the remainder of her time at Fresno State, before graduation in May 2022.