About 1,000 people paid their respects to the late district attorney at Thursday night’s visitation, and 400 attended his celebration of life ceremony at Tetrick Funeral Home Friday morning. Then a caravan of cars made their way to Unicoi, where a short graveside service was conducted and members of several local law enforcement agencies lined up in honor and remembrance of Clark.
Greg Leake met Clark 34 years ago, when they both attended East Tennessee State University. Leake, a pallbearer at the funeral, said they met in some criminal justice and political science classes, and remained friends ever since.
“We had lunch a few weeks ago (and) we were talking about how much we were looking forward to retirement and spending more time together,” Leake said.
David Hensley, Clark’s cousin and lifelong friend, recalled watching Miami Vice together and keeping up with area football and basketball. He remembered Clark as a hard worker, someone who held down a job since he was a teenager, and someone who always tried to do the right thing.
“Anything people have said, whether it was law enforcement, family, friends ... Tony was true to the bone, a super guy with a super heart,” Hensley said.
Mark McNabb, another cousin of Clark’s, said that Clark had a big influence on him when he was growing up. McNabb spent seven years working in law enforcement in both Unicoi and Washington counties, and said it all started when Clark took him to court one day as a teenager.
That one visit during McNabb’s spring break turned into a week of going to court and meeting police officers, and sparked McNabb’s interest and an eventual career in law enforcement.
“He was just a real big influence in my life,” McNabb said. “Honestly if it hadn’t been for him I may have been on the wrong side of the bars.”
After a short graveside service under an overcast sky, a bagpiper ended the ceremony with “Rocky Top,” and family and friends filtered from the cemetery but not without hugs and sharing fond memories.
“I think everybody who knew Tony loved him,” Leake said. “He was just that great of a guy, and very well liked by many people.”
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