James Carlas Clark, 84, passed away on Friday, June 7th. He was born in Floyd, Arkansas in 1935. He attended a one-room grammar school in Floyd before heading to Beebe, Arkansas for junior high. Jim and his family eventually moved to North Little Rock, where he graduated from North Little Rock High School in 1952. In 1953, Jim married Betty Joyce Allison, and they relocated to Los Angeles. They eventually moved to Arroyo Grande in 1958, which Jim called one of the best decisions they ever made.
Jim served in the U.S. Army and the National Guard prior to a lengthy career in law enforcement. He was a strong pillar of the Arroyo Grande community and worked for the city for 30 years (1959-1989). He spent 17 of those years as Police Chief and a couple of times, found himself as the acting city administrator. On June 23, 1989, the City of Arroyo Grande renamed the police station in his honor: the James C. Clark Justice Center. One of Jim’s favorite times of the year was when he led the Harvest Festival Parade down Grand Avenue dressed in his Arroyo Grande blues, blasting lights and sirens for the children of Arroyo Grande. From 1989 to 2000, he worked for the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office where he pioneered the computerization of fingerprinting with the CAL-ID program.
Jim was a member of Greater Pismo Beach Kiwanis, Oceano Elks Club, Arroyo Grande Masonic Lodge, International Footprint Association (Chapter 73), and the California Police Chief Association. Jim served as president during his time in Kiwanis. He greatly enjoyed volunteering and was involved in the Santa Cop program. Every year, he volunteered to assist kids with intellectual disabilities reel in fish at the Lopez Trout Farm. He was a man known for his commitment to leading with respect, kindness, and humor, whether he was taking care of his family, participating in his community, or supervising those who worked for him.
He was preceded in death by his first wife Betty, his mother Euna, his father Johnnie, and his granddaughter Rachel. He is survived by his second wife Nancy; his brothers Paul (Barbara) and Gerald (Michelle); his sons Craig (Penny) and Chris (Jo); his stepchildren Randy (Robbie), Renee (Cary), Todd (Nula), and Alan (Janice); his grandchildren Aaron (Sierra), Megan, Elvis, Blu, Jenelle, Cody, Nate, Brittany, Amanda, Olivia, Ronan, Erica, and Ryan ; his great-grandchildren Blake James, Wyatt, Everly, Sam, Walker, and Kathryn; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Jim’s family would also like to mention the Richardson girls, Mary Alyce, Becky, Margie, and Robin, who Jim thought of as his daughters. Anyone who met Jim felt like part of his family, and so there are many, many more names that could be listed here. He was generous with his avocados and gentle in his approach to life, which made him friends wherever he went. He went about life jolly and congenial, spreading smiles and creating memories. We’d like to thank all of you for bringing joy and laughs to his great life.
You’ll be greatly missed, Papa “Chief” Clark. Say “Hello” to Betty for us.
In lieu of flowers, we invite you to make a donation to SLOLEAF.org in Jim’s name.
Visitation will be Friday, June 21st, from 5:00 to 7:00pm at the Marshall-Spoo Sunset Funeral Chapel. The funeral service will be held at 9:30am at Grace Bible Church in Arroyo Grande on Saturday, June 22nd. A procession to the Arroyo Grande Cemetery will follow.
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