Fran Clark

She made friends easily, many with whom she kept in touch for years.

Frances Ruth Gillis Clark, age 90, of Vashon, WA, much loved wife, mother and grandmother, peacefully passed away on July 14, 2019.

Fran was born on January 1, 1929, in Chicago, IL. The daughter of a Presbyterian pastor and his wife who served churches in Illinois and Iowa, she lived in Libertyville, Woodstock, and Dubuque. She attended the University of Dubuque and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics (Food and Nutrition) from Iowa State University in 1952. After graduation, she interned as a dietician at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham & Women’s Hospital) in Boston and also at the Colorado General Hospital in Denver while her fiancé Wendell P. Clark served in Japan during the Korean War. She married Wendell in 1954 and in their early life together they lived in Ames, IA, Kaskaskia Experimental Forest in southern Illinois, and Marion, IL. With their young children, they lived in Vashon, WA; Emmett, Idaho; Longview, WA; near Nairobi, Kenya; and Kathmandu, Nepal, before returning to Vashon in 1970, where they have continued to live until the present.

With her warm smile and genuine interest in those around her, Fran made friends easily, many with whom she kept in touch for years. Fran enjoyed camping, hiking and mountain climbing with family and friends. Some notable adventures included summiting Mt. Baker in WA, climbing Mt. St. Helens (before the eruption), trekking in the Himalayas up to Thyangboche Monastery near Mt. Everest, and serving as chaperon on treks for classes from Lincoln School, Kathmandu, Nepal. Traveling to and from the US with three children while her family lived overseas, she toured New Delhi and Kolkata (India), Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong, and Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo (Japan). Fran also visited friends and relatives in England, Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand. She was passionate about roadside geology (bringing back rocks from around the world) and history (stopping at every historical marker on road trips around the western US and Canada). In recent years Fran loved spending time with her three grandsons, exploring beaches, hugging and snuggling, cheering at their ball games, reading stories and hearing about their adventures.

Fran was a member of Vashon Presbyterian Church and active in Vashon Methodist Church for many years. She was active in the Vashon community working at Camp Burton, driving for the Pony Express, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, and serving as chaperon for VHS students attending the Oregon Shakespeare Company performances on class trips.

Fran is survived by her husband of 64 years, Wendell P. Clark, daughter Kathleen Clark of Akron, OH, son James and his wife Jamie Clark of San Rafael, CA, and daughter Laura and her husband Paul Blackmore of Decatur, GA, and three grandsons: Andrew and his wife Julianna (Bratsberg) Clark of San Rafael, CA, Nathaniel and his wife Marissa (Phelan) Clark of San Rafael, CA, and James Blackmore of Decatur, GA. She is also survived by her sister Janet Gillis Hansen of Blaine, WA, sister-in-law Roberta (Scheper) Gillis of Centennial, CO, and eight nieces and nephews.

Fran is preceded in death by her father, Willis Bruce Gillis, Sr., mother Kathryn (McCrery) Gillis, brother Willis Bruce Gillis, Jr., brother, Robert McCrery Gillis, Sr., and sister-in-law Ann (Cozza) Gillis.

A memorial service to celebrate Fran’s life will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, October 12, 2019, at the Vashon United Methodist Church.

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