Sarah Clarke

Thursday, July 1, 2010

OLIVE BRANCH, Ill. -- Sarah Jane Clarke, 78, of Olive Branch, formerly of Cairo, Ill., a longtime leader in economic development and community affairs in Southern Illinois, died Monday, June 28, 2010, at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.

She was born Dec. 23,1931, in Mounds, Ill., daughter of the late John R. and Mary Agnes Travers. She was married to Peter J. Clarke.

Clarke was a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Cairo. She was director of Shawnee Development Council before her retirement. During a long and distinguished career she was also a charter board member with Illinois Ventures for Community Action that has expanded into a multimillion-dollar lending arm for businesses.

She served on the Illinois Community Action Association Board, was a member of National Leadership Commission through the Department of Labor, Region 5 representative to National Association of Counties (NACO), charter president for Illinois Employment and Training Association, and member of National Association of Community Action Agencies.

Mrs. Clarke was a charter member and past chairwoman of Illinois CETA Directors Association, original member of SIDEZ board, member of the original Manpower board in 1969, and member of IMTI (Illinois Management Institute).

Other activities on the local level included past president of Cairo Junior Women's Club, past director of Cairo Chamber of Commerce and Cairo Historical Association, past president of Xi Beta Beta Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, past chairwoman of Alexander County Democratic Women's Organization, and captain with Mother's March on Polio and Child Defects.

She was also chairwoman of Korean War Memorial Fund, chairwoman of Alexander Cerebral Palsy Drive, secretary and organizational chairwoman for Red Cross Drive, leader in Brownie and Girl Scouts seven years, chairwoman of Alexander County Crippled Children Drive and member of the President's White House Conference on Youth.

Mrs. Clarke was also well-known for writing and obtaining grants that provided the original funding for the nutrition program, Daystar nursing home and Southern Five Regional Planning Commission. She was recipient of the Harry Ring Outstanding Service Award.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a son, Peter J. Clarke Jr.

Survivors include her husband, Peter J. Clarke of Olive Branch; three daughters, Mary Candace (Richard) Keates of Pequea, Pa., Linda K. (Willis) Jackson of Cairo, Sally Ann Harrington of Cape Girardeau; two sons, John A. "Andy" Clarke of Olive Branch, Judge Mark H. (Susan) Clarke of Mounds; a brother, Charles Travers of Birmingham, Mich.; 10 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; several nieces; nephews; and other relatives and many friends.

At the request of the family, expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society, Dodge Library in Olive Branch or Cairo Public Library in Cairo in memory of Mrs. Clarke.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at St. Patrick's Church in Cairo.

Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church, preceded by the rosary at 9:30. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery at Mounds.

Barkett Funeral Home in Cairo is in charge of arrangements.