Maine Lives Lost: Artist’s family mourns ‘hero’ after long battle with COVID

Perry Clark loved to make art – large murals, signs for stores, custom pieces for cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Perry Clark’s family members say he was a gentleman and scholar with a passion for art. Photo obituary

In the workshop he set up in the garage of his home in Buxton, he always had a project going.

He loved color, all colors, and he looked so excited when he felt he got the perfect picture, said his son, Bryce Clark of Portland.

“He was a perfectionist,” said Bryce Clark, 31. “When he brought something to life, it brought it to life. You could see it in his eyes.

Clark loved life. But he was also strong-willed, stubborn and fearless, and he saw no need to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Clark, who chose not to get vaccinated, died Jan. 9 of complications from COVID-19. He was 61 years old. He had spent 47 days in hospital.

On the day of his death, his his son wrote a poignant tribute to his “hero”. Bryce Clark later said he felt compelled to write the Facebook post as an appeal to unvaccinated Mainers who doubt the seriousness of COVID-19.

He posted a photo of his father in a hospital bed, on a ventilator, surrounded by his family. He described how family crisis took over Thanksgiving and Christmas. He said he tried to convince his father to get vaccinated to protect his life.

Perry Clark shows a mural he painted in the hallway of a private home. Courtesy of the Clark family

“We all make decisions in life, and I respect yours as much as I respect my dad’s,” Bryce Clark wrote. “There were dinner parties that I felt like I had ruined trying to convince him to change his mind and conversations that had to be put aside because unconditional love for another sometimes means acceptance. to disagree on issues so as not to ruin a special occasion.Sometimes that love means biting your tongue when you feel like screaming.

Perry Clark was in hospital for 47 days before his death from COVID-19 on January 9. He was intubated, on a ventilator. Courtesy of the Clark family

Clark’s family members say he was a gentleman and a scholar with a passion for art. A native of California, he graduated from Fresno State College with a degree in Industrial Design and a minor in Metallurgy. He was a successful sign writer, mural painter, and silver jewelry maker.

In California, according to his obituary, he was best known for painting messages on giant water towers in orchards to announce birthdays, weddings and events. In Maine, he produced great works of art for homes and businesses – a billowing American flag on the side of Plummer’s Shop ‘n Save in Buxton; a pizza, a steak and cheese sub, a muffin and a cup of coffee on a Low’s Variety truck at Bar Mills.

Clark has won awards for his automobile and motorcycle designs, his son said. He could put an angel on the gas tank of a motorcycle; shoot flames at a van; an owl’s head on the hood of a car. He was always thrilled to peel back the paint tape to reveal his art and see his proud reflection come back to him, his son said.

“Every time he painted something, you could hear him say, ‘Naughty,'” his son said. “Wicked was one of his favorite words.”

Clark liked to try new things and he had imagined an installation to show his art with movement and texture. He sketched the drawing in 25 pages and was so excited about it before he got sick. It saddened his son that his father never had the chance to carry him out.

Perry Clark painted the American flag mural on the side of Plummer’s Shop’n’Save in Buxton. It is still in good condition. Courtesy of the Clark family

Clark’s two children opened up about how engaged and involved he was in their lives all the time.

When Bryce Clark joined the Cubs, his father became a den leader. He also took martial arts lessons with his son.

“He took us for walks in the woods and built forts along the way,” Bryce Clark said. “He was a kid at heart and wanted nothing more than to hang out with us. If we wanted to go for a walk, he wanted to come with us. He was the most caring and loving dad you could imagine. , and more.

His daughter, Sara Hope Clark, 27, of Sunnyvale, Calif., broke down in tears when she said she had written all of her college essays about her father. She said he taught her to be fiercely independent and a creative problem-solver and could make everything feel special or magical. She described going to the beach with him during a thunderstorm and playing for hours with him in the Saco River.

“He loved being a father more than anything,” she said. “I went through some notes in his office recently. I read a note that said, “I’m only happy when I’m a parent and painting.” I’m the saddest for the future and not being able to relive those moments with him.

One of the cars that Perry Clark painted. “Every time he painted something, you could hear him say, ‘Wicked,'” Bryce Clark said of his father. “Wicked was one of his favorite words.” Courtesy of the Clark family

Clark was engaged to marry Sandra Pelletier, his partner of 13 years. In recent years he has been active with the Standish Kiwanis Club and Buxton Masonic Lodge, where he served as both president and lodge master.

He enjoyed dancing and spending time in Florida with Pelletier.

It was in mid-November, when Clark and Pelletier were driving from Maine to Florida, that they both fell ill. They spent two days in Florida before returning to Maine.

On November 23, they tested positive for COVID-19. Clark was admitted to Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland, where he was placed on a ventilator the following day. He was then transported to Maine Medical Center, where he died with his children and his fiancée at his bedside.

At Perry Clark’s funeral, his family hung the print that reads ‘Everything will be fine’, which was a gift to two of his children in the summer of 2021. Bryce Clark, Perry’s son, said ‘it’ was so intrinsically a reflection of his optimism that we felt it was important. One of his old paint cans is displayed on the altar here along with his brushes and airbrushes. The family later used it as an urn for his ashes. Courtesy of the Clark family

“COVID-19 is a terrible, vicious and heartless thing,” Bryce Clark wrote on Facebook. “There is a void he leaves in his wake that quickly fills with grief, rage and confusion. …But against all odds, my family still finds joy that my father is finally free to do what he always told us was the pinnacle of art – mastering his lifelong quest. He always said that painting the sun and clouds at sunset was the epitome of imitating heavenly perfection on earth. Today my father can freely paint sunrise and sunset with all the perfect colors that only the sky can provide.

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