A memorial service was held in memory of Monte Clark Sept. 28 at the Kingsburg First Baptist Church. Mr. Clark, a former Kingsburg football player and NFL coach, died Sept. 16 in Detroit. The service was attended by more than 100 people, including Rafer and Jimmie Johnson as well as several of Clark's former teammates and players. Clark's three sons — Eric, Randy and Bryan — all spoke at the service along with former Dolphins offensive lineman Norm Evans.
All three of Mr. Clark's sons spoke about his desire to be "the best in the business," as well as his love for people, sense of humor and generosity. Several times during the service the crowd erupted in laughter when speakers told stories about Mr. Clark and his hilarious antics.
"Many people know my father's resume and stats, but one stat that is not shown in the record books is his love of people, specifically children," said Eric Clark. "Kids would come up to him, perhaps to see the spectacle of the giant with shoes the size of water skis, but it was always his heart, humor and love that kept them interested."
Mr. Clark was a longtime player and coach in the National Football League, including one season as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and seven seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions. He was also a Dolphins' assistant in Miami's 17-0 undefeated 1972 season.
"There were a group of guys who had been playing for Monte that loved him like crazy because he impacted our lives," said Evans, who played for Mr. Clark on the Miami Dolphins. "He helped us learn to be men and, even more importantly, we knew he loved us."
Mr. Clark was Kingsburg's football captain his senior year and his final game as a Viking was highlighted by a 55-0 championship game victory over Avenal. At Kingsburg, Mr. Clark earned double digit varsity letters and was a "Superior Athlete" award winner (four sports) as well as being named MVP of the very first Fresno City-County All-Star football game. His No. 44 jersey was retired by Kingsburg High on Oct., 14, 2005 and in 1968, he became a member of the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame.
Kingsburg Athletic Director Doug Davis said Mr. Clark would often times visit the KHS campus during his trips to California and meet with kids and coaches to talk about football. Kingsburg High will honor Mr. Clark's memory with a special "MC" sticker on the back of the Vikings football helmets throughout the 2009 season.
Clark is survived by his wife of 52 years, Charlotte; sons, Randy, and his wife, Michele, Bryan, and Eric, and his wife, Beth; eight grandchildren; brother, Don of Kingsburg; and sisters, Dolene Nelson of Kingsburg and Kathy Lowe of Clovis.