Don Clark Photo courtesy of his family

When Jaime Vallee and Shylah Clark were kids, they would go to Biddeford Pool with their father to fish for striped bass. Don Clark would stick a handful of poles in the sand as his girls splashed in the waves and waited for the rods to bend.

“It was super exciting seeing these huge ocean fish come in,” Vallee said. “We had never seen anything like that before. Dad absolutely loved it. He was so proud to show us.”

Mr. Clark, a devoted father, died June 2 of complications from a massive heart attack. He was 63.

He grew up in Biddeford, the son of Joseph and Madelyn Clark. He had a younger brother, James “Jimmy” Clark, who died in 2014.

Mr. Clark attended Biddeford High School but didn’t graduate. He earned a GED and served in the Army from 1976 to 1979. In his early years, he worked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and AVX Corp. in Biddeford.

His daughters say he was a carpenter, painter, and worked in maintenance at the Beau Rivage Motel in Old Orchard Beach and the Shawmut Inn in Kennebunkport.

Mr. Clark was also the resident handyman at Royal Palm Mobile Home Park in Stuart, Florida, where he had lived since 2000.

“He was the guy that everyone called to fix a leak, paint or repair something,” Vallee said. “He was very handy. He loved being around people.”

Mr. Clark had a passion for riding his Harley-Davidson. He took up motorcycle riding five years ago and rode nearly every weekend with a group of close friends. He also participated in charity rides for Toys for Tots.

Shylah Clark, of Windham, said he bought the Harley from her.

“It’s something he wanted to do all his life,” she said. “He loved the solitude of being out on the road and enjoying life in his own way.”

For Mr. Clark, family was everything. Vallee shared memories of fishing with her father and building birdhouses in their basement. She said her father always made time for them.

“I loved the time he spent with us,” she said. “He shared with us the things he loved to do. We enjoyed it, too.”

Shylah Clark said her father gave the kind of hugs that took your breath away. She shared stories about spending time with him in Florida. She and her wife, Charity Clark, and daughters, Jolee and Jett, spent two weeks there in March.

“He would always spend a lot of time with the girls,” Shylah Clark said. “He would get on the floor and play with them and do whatever they were doing. He’d throw them around because that’s what he did when we were kids. He took us and threw us on the couch. Of course, we would giggle and love it and say ‘more.’ That’s what he did with our kids, too.”

In addition to his daughters, Mr. Clark leaves a son, Richard Simmons of South Carolina, and his grandchildren, who also include Zachary, Jaidan, Landon and and RJ. He also leaves his longtime friend and girlfriend, Linda Franklin of Stuart.

Last summer, the Clark family rented a lakeside cottage in Monmouth. They spent a week together telling stories, laughing, barbecuing, and playing board games. Mr. Clark spent time fishing with his grandchildren. Just before he died, he told his daughters it was one of the best weeks of his life.

“He cherished those memories,” Shylah Clark said. “It was incredible.”

Mr. Clark unknowingly suffered a heart attack a week before he died. When he sought medical attention, doctors performed an emergency procedure to open a blockage in his heart. His condition steadily declined. His daughters and close friends were by his side when he passed away.

“I’ll miss having that person in my life I could count on no matter what,” Vallee said. “He would do anything for Shylah and I. One of the last things he said to us was, ‘You stick together with family no matter what. Don’t ever let anything get in the way of that. You promise me.’ That’s how he lived his life.”

A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. June 29 at the Royal Palm Mobile Home Park Clubhouse in Stuart, Florida.


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