Marilyn “Chris” Christensen Clark, age 94, departed this life on 11 November 2023 in Smithfield, UT after a long and happy life! Her warm smile, joyful laugh, and sincere love for others will be held in sweet memory by all who were blessed to cross her path.
She was born 12 November 1928 to Christa Isabel Mix and J. Erval Christensen, growing up on their fruit farm in Orem, Utah where she embraced school, church, and community involvement. She attended BYU for two years then transferred to USU (formerly USAC), where she met Ralph “RT” Clark. She graduated with a double major in Art and Elementary Education, which she used as her ticket to travel and see new places, beginning with her first year teaching in Kohala, Hawaii. That summer, she taught swimming and diving at the YWCA, taking advantage of the employee benefit of free classes in ukulele and Hawaiian dancing. The money she earned paid her way to Anchorage, Alaska for her second year of teaching. She went on to teach in Washington, California, and Utah.
After 5 years of long distance romance, Chris and RT married in 1954 in the Salt Lake Temple. They lived in several cities in Washington, California, and finally settled in Utah, where all five of their children were born.
Chris was a life-long educator. She taught her children art, ukulele, Hawaiian dances, and puppetry, performing numerous shows around Cache Valley. She taught the 11-year-old “Blazer” Scouts for ten years for which she received Scouting’s Silver Beaver award. She served extensively in the PTA and later as the Career Education Director in the Cache County School District, championing the motto, “All honest work is honorable.” In her later years she taught 3rd grade at Millville Elementary, earning their Teacher of the Year award. She loved teaching geography, which led to her becoming a National Geographic Society (NGS) teacher consultant, training other teachers as part of the Utah Geographic Alliance, and being chosen to travel to Mexico with other teachers to learn and create lesson plans. For many years, one of her favorite things was to be the scorekeeper for the Utah finals of the NGS Geography Bee.
Chris gave her all to everything she did and loved associating with people, whether it was with her callings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, her family, her community - where she was a member for 50 plus years of the Smithfield City Community Club and Literati, or organizing and performing with several ukulele “choirs”. If you would like to bring a ukulele to the funeral and join the family in two songs, see song sheet on Allen Mortuaries link below.
Chris and RT served an LDS mission at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. There she worked on maps for the Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, NE and was the curator for the International Children’s Art Exhibit—“Pioneers” 150th Anniversary Celebration. The gospel of Jesus Christ was a support and comfort through many challenges and gave her the hope to, “Do a little better tomorrow than I did today.”
Chris is survived by her brother Stephen (Ann) Christensen, her children Paul (Jenny Rees), Carrie (Kelly Merrill), Trudy (Ted Peterson), Brian (Krystn Swenson), Jennifer, and Gordon Clark, plus 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Our family is deeply grateful to friends, family, and the Smithfield 7th ward for their friendship, prayers, expressions of love, and deeds of service, as well as to the wonderful and caring staff at Birch Creek Assisted Living, especially Chris’s personal hospice nurse, Misty Rich.
Flowers are appreciated. An alternate welcome tribute to Marilyn “Chris” would be a donation to the RT Clark Photography Scholarship at USU. https://www.usu.edu/
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, November 18th at 12 pm in the Smithfield 7th Ward, 79 East 200 South. There will be a viewing held Friday evening from 6-8 pm at the Allen Mortuary of North Logan and at the church from 10:30-11:30 am Saturday before the service. The service will be livestreamed and can be accessed online at www.allenmortuaries.com.
For Livestream of Funeral Services click here: Passcode: Clark https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82137229927?pwd=ZXpwODdYOHZhNWlteG9FYVN2WjNidz09