Brigadier General Ernest James Clark, MD, age 91, passed peacefully from the arms of his loved ones into the arms of Jesus on November 26, 2016. “James” was born in Cambridge, Kansas in 1925. He was the youngest son of Raymond and Elva Clark, who worked a small farm to support their family of eight. James rode his horse, Queen, born on his birthday, to a one room schoolhouse in Cedar Vale, Kansas, where he excelled from the very first day. He skipped several grades, and graduated from Cedar Vale High School at age 16.
James left Cedar Vale with $17 in his pocket, and with grit and determination and a basketball scholarship in hand, began his premedical studies at Kansas State College, KS (1942-1943). He worked in the cafeteria for food, as a janitor in the music hall, and in a furniture store on the weekends to help pay for the expenses that weren’t covered by his scholarship. He enlisted in the Navy V-12 program in 1943, which allowed him to continue his premedical studies at Westminster College, MO (1943-1944). He earned his doctorate of medicine in 1948 at Washington University, St. Louis, MO. He served his rotating internship at the Research Hospital, Kansas City, MO (1948-1949). In 1950 he was mustered out of the Navy and commissioned in the Air Force as a Captain. His first Air Force assignment was as a general medical officer, USAF Hospital, Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, WY.
While in Wyoming, James was chosen by Charles Remmelkamp, a well known infectious disease specialist, to work with him in the strep lab. James was in charge of the two rheumatic fever wards and worked with a team of 5 doctors who discovered that penicillin, if given early, would prevent rheumatic fever as a complication of strep. Their discovery has had a dramatic impact on the treatment of streptococcus. James completed his residency in Internal Medicine at San Francisco Hospital, Stanford Service, in San Francisco, CA from 1952-1955 and was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1960. Dr. Bobby Brown, 3rd baseman for the NY Yankees and President of the American League of Baseball was his roommate throughout his residency program and became one of his closest friends. He often spoke of the fun he had tagging along with Bobby and rubbing elbows with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.
Once board certified, James served in the Air Force in a wide variety of roles that proved him to be a leader of men. In 1955, he served as Chief of Medical Services, of the 7505th USAF Hospital in Burderop Park, England, and moved to the position of Chief of Professional Services of that hospital in 1956. At the USAF Hospital, Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, he served as Chief of Medical Services from 1958-1962, then Chief of Hospital Services, Deputy Commander and Director of Medical Education of the rotating internship from 1962-1964. From 1964 to 1966 James served as Director of Hospital Services, Deputy Commander, and Director of Medical Education for the USAF Hospital, Scott Air Force Base, IL. He moved his family to Wiesbaden, Germany and from 1966-1969 was Director of Professional Services, Office of the Surgeon, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Stateside in 1969, James acted as consultant in internal medicine, Consultants Division, Office of the Surgeon General, Washington, D.C., and from 1971-1973 as Chief of Consultants Division. 1973-1974 took the Clark family to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, where James served as Command Surgeon and Commander of the Air Force Academy Hospital where he had the opportunity to touch the lives of many young Air Force Cadets. His next assignment led him to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, where he served as Command Surgeon of the Pacific Air Forces from 1974-1975. He was promoted to the grade of Brigadier General effective May 1, 1975. His final assignment in the Air Force took him back to Washington, where he served as Director of Professional Services in the Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force from 1975-1978.
James was a member of the Air Force Association of Internists and Allied Specialists and American Medical Association. He was a fellow of the American College of Physicians and between 1971 and 1973 was U.S. Air Force Governor of the American College of Physicians.
His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon and the Navy Good Conduct Medal.
After his retirement from the Air Force in October of 1978, James began a consulting job with Environmental Services in Rockville, MD, then left after a year to begin a seven year career as Medical Director of the Ben Franklin Clinic in Philadelphia.
In 1987, after a very long and illustrious career spent healing, teaching and mentoring others, James retired and moved back to Colorado, where he built a home in Monument and was finally able to relax and enjoy the things he loved. There he spent time riding the horses he loved in the foothills of the Rockies, spending time with friends and family, attending regular services at Rockrimmon Church, woodworking, building clocks, landscaping and gardening. After 46 years of marriage, his wife, Joan, passed, and James began life again some time later with his second wife and the love of his life, Alice, with whom he was blessed with another 17 years of joy. His last years were spent living with his daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Robert Carbaugh in Shippensburg, PA, where James designed and decorated his own beautiful apartment from the dusty garage that once held Robert’s classic cars. He felt so blessed to spend this time of his life in a place that reminded him of his boyhood home in Cedar Vale, surrounded by farmland and Amish families. He worked in his woodshop building beautiful pieces from his favorite woods, designed and directed the landscaping for the 6 acres he now called home, crafted and cooked delicious meals, tended his beautiful flower gardens and prolific vegetable garden, and enjoyed being surrounded by his family most of all. The house in Shippensburg became a virtual bed and breakfast to all the many friends and family who came to visit regularly to honor him for his amazing courage, determination and integrity, and to shower him with the love and affection that he so richly deserved.
James is survived by his four children: Paula Clark Hebert, Douglas Pope Clark, John Dayton Clark, and Rebecca Clark Carbaugh. He is also survived by three stepchildren: Franklin Thornbury Hughes, Andrea Louise Davis, Norman Davis Hughes; and niece, Myrna Cable; as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wives, Joan Pope Clark and Alice Davis Clark.
A Memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on July 15, 2017 in Colorado Springs at Rockrimmon Church, 4301 Forrest Hill Road. In lieu of flowers, Dad would be honored with donations to your local Hospice Care Center.