|Riley E. Clark, known and loved by so many people, died peacefully Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Murfreesboro.
Riley was born in rural Rutherford County on November 25, 1923, to Minnie Jane and James Madison Clark. The youngest of seven, he survived the Depression, and like most young men his age entered the Army during World War II. Like everything else in his life, Riley distinguished himself in the service to his country. His Bronze Medal citation reads “Sergeant Riley E. Clark, 739th Field Artillery Battalion, United States Army, is awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in France and German. Sgt. Clark’s courage, leadership, efficiency and adeptness has been demonstrated many times. His outstanding manner of performance, especially during the time of a river crossing when his battery was called upon for continuous fire for five days, contributed immeasurably towards the success of the fire missions of his battalion. Sgt. Clark’s inspirational leadership, determination, and coolness under fire reflect great credit upon himself and the Military Service.”
He lived his life with those same convictions. Riley married Doreen Huff whose constant letters to her husband through the war gave him hope for the future. Upon his return he managed to talk that Ohio girl into living in Murfreesboro, and that’s where they raised their son Jim. Riley’s choice of a profession was a bit unusual for the time – he trained as a hairdresser and established a hair salon through which hundreds of Murfreesboro women (and men) always came out looking better. After he was widowed, Riley married Paula Owen in 1974. Paula predeceased him in 2011.
Riley wasn’t just interested in work – he had so many talents and interests. He could build or fix almost anything and had a keen appreciation for fine wood and craftsmanship. He loved music of all kinds, sang in the church choir, played the organ, and even taught himself to play guitar. After retirement, he found another passion – dancing with Paula at the Moose Lodge. They truly enjoyed retirement and took many trips to Florida and spent much time with friends in Murfreesboro. Riley was also very attached to the procession of dachshunds that shared their home and his chair.
His heart was huge and tender, and he loved his family and friends, and loved being with them.
Survivors include son Jim Clark and his wife Wendy of Union City, Tenn.; grandchildren Adam Clark and his wife Becky of San Marcos, Texas; grandson Dustin Clark, his wife Carrie and their children Ayzia, Jayden and Kylenn of Obion, Tenn.; step-grandson Joe DuRard, his wife Melanie, and their children Tyler, and Kelsie and Justin Peach of Spring Hill, TEnn.; and step-daughter Elizabeth Owen and her husband Jerry L. Smith of Nashville.
Riley’s nephew Terry Clark and his wife Dot of Murfreesboro were very special friends to Riley. For more than 50 years Riley’s life was blessed by W.K. and Nancy Lane, who were more than neighbors and more than friends. Paul Wooten and Amanda Gilliland were also much cherished friends.
So many people loved Riley and none more so than the incredible staff at the Tennessee State Veterans Home who treated him with such loving respect and care. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Tennessee State Veterans Home at 345 Compton Road, in memory of Riley.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, June 7, at 12:00 noon, followed by a funeral service at 1:00 p.m., at Woodfin Funeral Chapel in Murfreesboro. WOODFIN FUNERAL CHAPEL. 893-5151. www.woodfinchapel.com.