Donald Clarke proudly wore his Big Buck Club of Maine badges, having shot a couple bucks in his lifetime that weighed in over the 200-pound mark.

“He was quite proud of that,” said his wife, Gail Clarke.

Mr. Clarke, a South Portland Fire Department veteran, died Thursday at age 80.

Born in Portland, he was a graduate of Deering High School. His wife said he was a hard worker who often held down two jobs at a time to support their family of five children — Stephen Clarke, Donald Clarke Jr., Karen Austin, Cynthia Martel and Kimberly Giles.

Mr. Clarke retired from the SPFD after 25 years of service.

The couple lived in the home he built with his father-in-law on Peabody Pond in Sebago. Their home was initially a cottage, where they would spend their summers and a lot of weekends. Mr. Clarke would even spend time there in the winter, ice fishing and snowmobiling.

“We found in all our spare time that we were coming up (here),” his wife said, so “in 1972, we decided we wanted to live here year round.”

They were the first family to live all four seasons on the Peabody Pond Road, she said, a fact that required them to monitor school bus runs to make sure the bus would pick up their children.

Mr. Clarke taught both his sons how to fish and hunt. His son Stephen said he remembers going north with his father for the first week of deer hunting every year. Then they would hunt locally.

“He always took time off in November to hunt,” he said.

Mr. Clarke and his wife traveled frequently around the country. As an outdoors man, he enjoyed going various places where he could enjoy nature. She said the couple visited a number of national parks in their travels, including Yellowstone.

Mr. Clarke “was all about his grandkids and family,” his son said. When his sons were building their homes, he was always on hand.

“He always liked helping somebody out,” he said.

And while Mr. Clarke and his wife would travel to Florida to spend some time during the winter, he always returned in time for his grandsons’ baseball season.

“He loved traveling,” his son said, “but then when spring started coming around he wanted to get back to see his grandsons play.”

Mr. Clarke was also known for taking his five grandchildren to Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire for a day of fun.

“That was one big thing for him,” his son said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]