FREEPORT — More than 200 family members, friends, former colleagues and other admirers met Saturday in Freeport to celebrate the life of Nancy Randall Clark, a revered educator and the first woman to serve as majority leader of the Maine Senate. A Freeport native, Clark died Dec. 28 at age 77.

Attendees crammed inside the modest Harraseeket Grange Hall on Elm Street to share memories of Clark while surrounded by her photographs, newspaper clippings and campaign materials, along with plaques, buttons, pins and sashes from the many organizations that have honored her over the years.

In addition to teaching for 40 years and serving as a Maine legislator for 20 years, Clark belonged to or held a leadership position in the Harraseeket Grange, Casco Chapter of Eastern Star, Freeport Elders, Daughters of the American Revolution, Freeport Community Services, Freeport Women’s Club, Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, South Freeport Congregational Church and many other organizations.

“It was like 18 organizations that she was a member of,” said her niece Katherine Jordan, of Durham. “Six out of seven days, she was out doing things. I don’t know how she kept up with it. And she never forgot a name.”

Fellow DAR member Ruth Nies, of Brunswick, said Clark received the DAR Good Citizens Award when she was a senior in high school. She took the honor seriously, coming back to speak about it and advise subsequent recipients to live good and full lives.

“She was quite a lady,” Nies said.

Debbie Wescott, one of Clark’s former teaching colleagues at Freeport High School, recalled a time when Wescott was adopting her son from India. It was a grueling process that took about 18 months, and Clark lent a hand with the paperwork.

“India likes a lot of seals and stickers on documentation,” Wescott said, adding that at the time she could not afford the notary fees. Clark said she would take care of it. “She came back with them all notarized and with blue, pink and purple seals.”

Corley Anne Byras, another former teaching colleague and fellow member of the Maine Education Association, described Clark’s teaching style as “very exacting.”

“Everything had to be just so,” Byras said. “I write books. I used to use her as a proofreader.”

As a legislator, Clark was an engaging speaker who always carried herself well despite being a woman in what was then a male-dominated milieu, said Jordan, her niece. She saved every constituent letter she received.

“I found thousands and thousands of letters from constituents,” she said, adding that their opinions really mattered to Clark. “She didn’t always agree with them, but she always voted their interests. She always felt that she was there to serve.”

Speakers at the event described Clark as a no-nonsense person with a wealth of sage advice and a deep understanding of how to get things done.

Sometimes that wisdom was delivered in blunt expressions, such as, “Get over it,” said South Freeport Congregational Church Pastor David Bowling. “If Nancy is looking down, I’m sure she’s saying, ‘What’s the fuss?'”

 

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