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Westfield Community Helps Family After Sudden Death of Husband, Father

Jill D'Ambrosio

Thursday, May 29, 2014 • 11:02pm

WESTFIELD, NJ – The community is rallying to support the wife and three young children of John Clark, 47, a 14-year resident of Westfield who died earlier this month after suffering two strokes.

Clark is survived by his wife Mary Hoskins-Clark and three daughters, Katie, Julia and Emma. He died May 18, two weeks after the strokes. The visitation at Dooley Colonial Home several days later drew large crowds, attendees said.

Family and friends have created an online fund on Giveforward.com to raise money for his daughters’ educational expenses and any unexpected needs. So far, more than $34,800 had been donated. To visit the page, click here.

Marlene Obsgarten, a close friend of the family whose husband coached softball with Clark, said that the Giveforward fund has mobilized the community.

“As difficult as the two weeks of John's fight [were], it was during this time that the success of the Giveforward campaign demonstrated to his wife and three daughters the strength of the support around them,” she said. "The original 90-day fundraising goal was met in just three days, a testament to how loved John and his family are, and the donations big and small, from loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers continue to grow the fund.”

On Saturday, May 31, friends will hold a bake sale to benefit the fund at Memorial field on Scotch Plains Avenue in Westfield from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations of baked goods, lemonade, water and coffee will be accepted that day.

Organizers are hoping that girls who knew Clark through his children will stop by after their softball games to work at the sale.

“He was such a fun guy that the girls called him their friend too,” said Betsy Laskaris, a friend of the family who is helping to organize the sale.

Purple and yellow balloons will adorn the bake sale table in honor of Clark’s favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings, and his favorite color, respectively.

Laskaris and others are planning to set up a website to coordinate volunteer meal preparation and help with household chores, such as lawn care, for the Clarks.

John Clark will be remembered as a dedicated dad who coached softball and volunteered as a director for the annual Jefferson Elementary School Jubilee’s dad’s dance. He was also a member of the Friendly Sons of Shillelagh Pipe Band based in Old Bridge, according to a recent obituary in The Star Ledger. For the last three years, Clark worked as a project manager at Pepsico.

Obsgarten recalled Clark as “the most spirited guy around.”

“He had endless ways to bring a smile to the faces of those in his company,” she said.

The family’s two older children are students at Edison Intermediate School, while the youngest is a student at Jefferson.

“The school, the teachers, the staff give unconditional support,” said Jefferson Principal Jeanette Munoz.

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