Clark, Gen. Mark Wayne (1896-1984)

  • By Duane Colt Denfeld, Ph.D.
  • Posted 5/01/2009
  • Essay 9004
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On July 27, 1937 Major Mark Wayne Clark received an assignment to the Third Division, Fort Lewis, as Assistant Chief of Staff. This would be the start of an association with the state, including consideration of retirement to Camano Island. During World War II, he would become a famous general. After the war in 1949 Washington honored him by naming the new bridge from Stanwood to Camano Island the General Mark Clark Bridge.

Mark Clark: Military Man 

Mark Clark was born in Madison Barracks, New York, into a career army family. His father was a colonel. He grew up in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb near Fort Sheridan, where his father was stationed. Mark Clark graduated from West Point in 1917, having trained with Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969), who become a lifelong friend, a friendship that would benefit both men. During World War I, Clark was wounded in action in France.  

On May 17, 1924, he married Maurine Doran (1892-1966) and they had two children, William Doran Clark (b. 1925) and Patricia Ann (1926-1962). In 1937 Captain Clark graduated from the Army War College, Washington, D.C., and then was assigned to Fort Lewis. The Clark family loved Fort Lewis and the Pacific Northwest with its beauty and yet with urban amenities available in Seattle and Tacoma. Maurine (called Renie) found the post to be a happy place with frequent informal crab dinners and parties. Although they enjoyed post life, Clark insisted on getting away to a quiet place to fish and reflect. A surprise event at Fort Lewis would provide them with the perfect retreat.

Maude Griffith, an almost-forgotten cousin and her husband, Tom, made contact and visited the Clarks at Fort Lewis. The Griffiths invited them to stay with them at their summer home on Camano Island. In her autobiography, Captain’s Bride, General’s Lady, Renie relates that they adored the island and vacationed there as often as possible. They purchased waterfront property on its northwest corner for a future retirement home.

In October 1938, Clark’s friend Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Eisenhower visited Fort Lewis and Major Clark. Ike, eager to leave his staff duties in the Philippines and lead troops, was impressed with the post and its 15th Infantry Regiment, one of the best in the army. Following the visit, Eisenhower and Clark corresponded regarding Eisenhower’s effort to obtain a Fort Lewis assignment. Major Clark did what he could to realize the assignment. In 1939 Eisenhower received word of his transfer to Fort Lewis and then they exchanged letters concerning schools and post conditions. Clark suggested that Mamie Eisenhower (1896-1979) purchase curtains in The Philippines, where they would be less expensive. He went over to the future Eisenhower home and measured the windows and sent Ike the details.

The Clarks lived in Quarters 5 on flag circle, where five homes sit behind the impressive 91st Division Monument. Set somewhat out in the open, the homes lacked privacy, so Renie and post wives called it Snoopie Loop.

Training Soldiers for War

Major Clark had a heavy workload planning and implementing division maneuvers. The division commanding officer gave him considerable freedom to test tactics. Clark trained the Third Division for an amphibious assault at Monterey, California, a tactic in which the army lacked experience. Brigadier General George C. Marshall (1880-1959), a brilliant officer who commanded Vancouver Barracks and then was army Chief of Staff, served as a mentor to Clark. They visited each other and discussed tactics. Clark proved adept at planning and carrying out military exercises. He also corresponded with General Lesley J. McNair (1883-1944), sharing ideas on amphibious warfare, and McNair would later tap Clark to work in the Army Plans and Operations Section. Clark’s Fort Lewis accomplishments were noted by Marshall, McNair, Eisenhower and others who would lead the army and select the most talented officers for important roles.

On July 1, 1940, Clark was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and received orders to the War College in Washington, D.C., as an instructor. The Clarks shipped their furniture and headed for a week’s vacation at Camano Island. On the way they heard a radio broadcast that the War College had closed. The Clarks reduced their Camano vacation to three days and returned to Fort Lewis. Clark was told to proceed to Washington, D.C. There, he occupied a number of important staff positions.  In August 1941 he received a promotion to Brigadier General, skipping over the rank of Colonel. In April 1942 came a second star, and in August Clark went with Eisenhower to England as the Deputy Supreme Commander. His third star came later in 1942. He led the U.S. Fifth Army through North Africa and Italy to the capture of Rome in June 1944. In March 1945 he received a fourth-star as General and had become one of the well-known heroes of World War II. Following the war, General Clark commanded the U.S. Occupation Forces in Austria until May 1947.

Returning to Washington

Clark returned to the United States in June 1947 to command the Sixth Army, headquartered at the Presidio of San Francisco. This assignment provided opportunities to make official visits to Fort Lewis and the Camano Island vacation home. Twice in 1947, in June and September, Mark, Maurine, and Ann Clark relaxed there. In 1949 the General Mark Clark Bridge was completed. It was dedicated on July 23, 1950. General Clark became Chief of Army Field Forces in September 1949 with offices at Fort Monroe, Virginia. This duty required inspection trips to Fort Lewis, including June 1950 and July 1951, with short stays on the island. Every trip there included a discussion of retiring to Camano, but neither the general or Renie considered it the right time.

In May 1952, Clark became Commander in Chief, United Nations Command and Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, Far East, in Japan. He oversaw the conclusion of the Korean War and on July 27, 1953, he signed the Armistice. With the armistice concluded, he returned to the United States and retired. Again he considered his options: retiring to Camano Island, a business career, or accepting the position of president of the Citadel Military College of South Carolina. General Clark visited the Citadel and felt a strong closeness to the cadets. He accepted the presidency in October 1953.    

In 1962, the Clarks's daughter, artist Ann Clark Oosting, died. Meanwhile, Renie’s health had declined. General Clark considered Camano Island weather as bad for her, so he dropped any plans to retire there. The general retired from Citadel in 1965 and they lived in Charleston. Renie died on her 74th birthday. General Mark Wayne Clark died at Charleston, South Carolina, on April 17, 1984. 


Maurine Clark, Captain’s Bride, General’s Lady (New York: McGraw Hill, 1956); Martin Blumenson, Mark Clark (New York: Congdon and Weed, Inc., 1984); Mark W. Clark Collection, The Citadel Archives and Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, Janet Yates correspondence; “Gen. Mark Clark Warns Troops of Communism On Visit to Fort Lewis,” Union Bulletin, Walla Walla, July 3, 1947, p. 2; “General Clark Coming Tuesday,” Fort Lewis Ranger, July 27, 1951, p. 1.

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