Memorable Historic Bramwell Resident

Walter P. and Mollie S. Clark


Remembering Walter P. and Mollie S. Clark

Walter Pleasant and Mollie Smith Clark began their relationship at a picnic in the mid 1920's. Walter was living and working in Bramwell, WV for the W. H. Thomas Coal Company. Mollie was living and teaching first grade in Matoaka, WV .They were married on May 30, 1928 and began a marriage that lasted for over seventy years.

Walter P. Clark was born in 1901 in Kimball, WV, the oldest of three sons of Walter Samuel Clark and Susan Clark .  Walter P. (nicknamed "Punch" by his father) finished one year of college at Hampden-Sidney College and then went to work for the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company and the W. H. Thomas Coal Company. They lived the first year of their marriage in the Jamison Building in Bramwell and then moved to the house off Bowen Lane, in Freeman where they remained until their deaths in 1999. Punch accepted a bookkeeping job with Booth-Bowen Coal Company in 1930 and worked there until the company liquidated in 1944. He then became the private secretary to the Bowen family until 1951. Mr. Joseph Bowen was associated with West Virginia Armature Company and the company offered Punch a job as office manager and bookkeeper. Punch retired from the company as Vice-president of Finance in 1970. His retirement years were busy with woodworking, a bit of traveling, working cross word puzzles and doing house work with Mollie. He continued to do his personal bookkeeping with a help of others because of his failed eyesight. His mind remained clear to the end, reminding someone that his quarterly IRS payment was due the next day when he was in the Emergency Room with a broken hip and no medicine for pain.

What sort of person was this quiet, listening person? He was a good provider even during the Great Depression. The table always had food on it three times a day. Steak and lobster was not on the menu but October beans were very common during the winter months. Garden vegetables grown on the property and other places were plentiful. He was a good father believing in discipline for his children: daughter, Mary Elizabeth, son, Walter P., Jr. and foster daughter, Sally Wilkerson. He enjoyed making toys for his children out of scrap wood and even made a incubator for his daughter who was the only survivor of triplets in 1931. Punch was always charitable, giving of gifts or time. He worked and worshiped at the Bramwell Presbyterian Church where he also served as a Deacon and Elder. He was a charter member of the Bramwell Kiwanis Club, a fifty year member of the Bramwell Masonic Lodge and a member of Beni Keden Shrine. Punch was a recorder for the town of Bramwell for many years. His role as a grandfather and great-grandfather are well remembered serving the five grandchildren and the six great grandchildren as though they were his own children. He served us all by his example of honesty, his kindness, and his professionalism. His son was told at his funeral that Punch was a "giver" and never a "taker". He probably learned this trait the hard way. Punch never liked to waste time or anything else. He was an avid recycler and was certainly among the first to recycle everything possible. He was always positive about any adversity ...with solutions to follow.

Mollie Smith Clark was the seventh of eleven children born to James Crockett and Willie Davis Smith in 1902 on a farm in Carroll County, V A, near the town of Hillsville. She was a beautiful, kind, and considerate woman. She, like her brothers and sisters, went through "training" in the family from cleaning the house to working the fields. Each job was experienced according to age and need. She grew up learning how to "make do" with what was at hand. Mollie obtained a two year teaching degree from Radford College, Radford, V A getting financial help from her older siblings and working. She had indicated that this part of her life was very difficult. She was a teacher for several years in the public school system in Matoaka, WV and later taught kindergarten several years at the Bramwell Presbyterian Church where she was also active in the Women of the Church work. Former students, on many occasions have expressed their love and appreciation for her hard work and kindness. Mollie, was the best example of wife, homemaker, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She taught by example and disciplined with a firm hand. The firm hand was experienced by one of the authors on many occasions, perhaps too few! Love was always demonstrated after the discipline. All would be well thereafter. She could play baseball as well as most men, taught by her team of siblings. She could throw a rock with extreme accuracy! She was a cook who could make filet mignon out of a sow's ear. She could sooth any child wounded by childhood mishaps, replacing the tears with laughter in record time. She could be an army against anyone who had clearly wronged her child and she was careful to support the child only after making sure that the child was innocent. Mollie was a full time supporter of Punch in his church and all of his activities. She fought the worse kind of cancer, won, and lived for thirty seven years after being diagnosed with cancer. Her chief philosophy was her belief that laughter was the best medicine.

Walter P. and Mollie S. Clark each lived to be Ninety Seven years of age, teaching by example, influencing many, loving all, and respectful of all.

( Material submitted by: Walter P. Clark, Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Clark Gross. )

 

The Clark's Home in Freeman/Spicertown, WV.

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