Christopher Jackson Clark: Editor. Father. Advocate. Guelphite. Born March 4, 1955, in Calgary.; died July 12, 2022, in Guelph, Ont., of a heart issue; aged 67.
Write it tight and bright, just a little sparkler, Chris might advise here as he did reporters at the community newspaper he edited in Guelph for 30 years. Not too bright, though. He hated glowing tributes. He was all too aware of his own flaws.
The third child of Jack Clark and Patricia Boyer, he grew up close to his siblings, Mike, Melinda and Jennifer, in Toronto’s Rosedale area. While Chris only really “excelled” in high school at smoking out on the street, his late brother Mike advised him to enter journalism, saying, “Anyone can do it.”
Chris – to his surprise – was hired by the Portage La Prairie Daily Graphic, covering “sports to courts” and came to believe that working at small local papers was the best training for any journalist.
Chris eventually moved back to Ontario for a job at the Ingersoll Times. He married another reporter, Margaret Boyd, and began raising their three children – Marianne, Jeremy, and Madeline. Chris completed a broadcast journalism diploma at Fanshawe College in London, and landed in Guelph for a job at the university’s radio station.
In 1986 he was lured to a start-up weekly tabloid called the Tribune, first as a sports reporter and then as editor, where he stayed until retiring in 2016. Nothing pleased Chris more than when the “Trib” scooped the “Merc,” the broadsheet daily Mercury. It galled him after he retired to see the papers amalgamated with both names on the masthead.
Hardly hard-boiled, however, Chris would bounce into the newsroom with a cheery “Hello, beautiful people.”
He was a romantic about journalism, with movie posters for The Post and Spotlight on his walls. He once backed a 10-part series on supports for new and breast-feeding mothers after a local baby died of dehydration. He just wanted to put out a “newsy” paper and could be irritating, needling his small clutch of reporter-photographers until one came back with a strong front-page photo or story.
Chris also ran a weekly photo feature on heritage buildings that earned him an Architectural Conservancy of Ontario media award for his advocacy.
His interest in transformation extended to his personal life. He was crushed when his marriage ended in the early 1990s, but found love again.
Kate Revington, a mother of three, said she nearly cancelled their first coffee date when she could not find a babysitter for her youngest. But Chris told Kate to bring her daughter along. Kate recognized his kindness from the start. Coffee extended to lunch and onward for 27 years.
They chose to “live apart together” just blocks from each other to spare their children the stress of adjusting to a blended family. But Chris worked hard to create “connective tissue.” He was never happier than when all six kids – later with partners and children – were together on vacation or poolside in his backyard. He would be chuffed to know that a list they compiled of 29 things they learned from him included “how to be a devoted partner and parent.”
Chris loved doing crosswords and devoured several newspapers. He volunteered with a reading club for young newcomers to Canada and took many sunset photos at the Boyer family cottage in Kincardine, Ont. He also enjoyed travelling to see his kids living abroad.
Chris died too soon and unexpectedly, although peacefully it seemed, resting on his bed, hands on his chest, glasses on the side table, after coming home with steaks for a family barbecue that evening.
Chris’s family and friends came together for a celebration of life, but he would have been fine with calling it a funeral. “We don’t have to insert sweetener into every aspect of life and death,” Chris used to say. “It’s okay to mourn.” So they did just that and said goodbye.
Greta DeLonghi is Chris’s former colleague.
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