Remembering Clark Ray
This past week I learned of the sudden passing of two close friends. It was a stark reminder of how precious life is and it can be over suddenly without warning and much too soon. Both friends lived their lives to the fullest and made a real difference for those around them. While they did it in different ways each shared a love of people and were loved in return. They will be missed not only by their families but by so many they might never have met but through their work impacted in a positive way.
This column is about Clark Ray who lived his live more publicly, my other friend was more private. Like so many others I was left speechless by Clark’s passing when I read it on FB. I will always remember Clark as a young man of substance, charm and honor. He lived life in a way that so many others try to do but fall short; not Clark. He not only talked the talk of justice, equality and love for all, he walked that walk every day. He cared about all people and shared his love with them unstintingly and in return all of us who knew him loved him back.
Though older than Clark by many years I looked up to him. I first met him over 25 years ago and have been close to him for over two decades in which he served four different Mayors in DC. I stood with him when he ran for Council-at-large and when he had some issues with a job. But Clark overcame everything and was able to do that because of his expertise and ability to get along with everyone.
His last job for the District of Columbia was as Executive Director of the D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA). The DCSAA combines public and private school athletics in D.C. Clark handled football and basketball playoffs, and pitting the public school champion from the DCIAA against the several champions from private schools within the city. It wasn’t easy this past pandemic year but Clark always spoke up for the athletes and their needs.
Prior to that Clark served in many roles for the Mayor’s he served. He began with a stint in the Office of Neighborhood Services. He then served as Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation; Senior Director, Strategy for the Greater Washington Sports Alliance; and Director of External Affairs for the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission. In every role Clark spoke out for the LGBTQ+ community. He helped to found Team DC, the gay sports league, and was Co-chair of the committee that worked to bring the Gay Gaymes to DC. He supported the fight for gay marriage through the Foundation for All DC Families and fought for the right of LGBTQ+ people to adopt children. He and his husband Aubrey have four. He was incredibly knowledgeable about DC government and willingly shared his knowledge with others, mentoring them.
Clark came to DC with the Clinton Administration a proud son of Smackover, Arkansas. His amazing and supportive mom still lives there. He worked as Director of Strategic Scheduling and Advance, Office of the Vice President/for Tipper Gore. He then served as Chief of Staff to Tipper during the Gore 2000 campaign. When Clark ran for Council Tipper returned the favor and come to a fundraiser for him. Another big name who did a fundraiser for him was Madelaine Albright. Clark could charm both the guy on the street and the famous; they all loved him. I don’t know anyone who met Clark who didn’t respect and love him. I once had a debate with Cora Masters Barry in our Leadership Washington class and we finally hugged it out when Clark sat us at the same table at his and Aubrey’s wedding. That is just who Clark was.
Clark earned his B.S. from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; and his Master's in Education from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA where he was a Graduate Assistant at Temple Sports Medicine. He also worked for the Philadelphia Eagles/Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium.
My heart goes out to Clark’s husband Aubrey who was clearly the love of his life and their beautiful four children as well as the host of loving family both in Arkansas and Mississippi where Aubrey is from. They visited with them regularly. I also send my condolences to all those friends who were lucky enough as I was to know Clark and be a part of his life. We have all lost something irreplaceable with his passing.
Clark Ray's funeral funeral is on Saturday, June 12, 2021
Southeast Tennis and Learning Center
701 Mississippi Ave SE
Washington DC 20032
Visitation at 10:00 am and service at 11:00 am