Carolyn “Connie” Clark
Bravo to a Life Well Played – Carolyn “Connie” Clark (1942-2021)
POLK COUNTY – On January 3, the curtain fell one final time on actress, director, playwright, educator, wife and mother Connie Clark, capping a life marked by successes both grand and fine, public and private. Born in White Plains, NY, as Carolyn Heaver, her brother Barry’s mispronunciation quickly granted her the moniker by which most of us knew her: Connie. She marked her boldness early, eschewing the cheerleading squad to be the team’s mascot, demonstrating the strength that belied her small frame her entire life.
In the 60s, Connie moved on to Purdue and professional theater in the Midwest, sharing the stage with such future luminaries as James Earl Jones, Reid Shelton, Merle Louise, and Peter Saputo. A brief career as a television news anchor followed. Marriage to Dr. Ralph Junker, MD, redirected her to Southampton, NY, where they co-authored her two favorite productions, Lynne and Barry Junker.
In 1978, the family relocated to Polk County, NC, and Connie quickly established herself as a community fixture. She was everywhere in the late 70s and 80s – president of Tryon Little Theater, acting, directing, promoting, or costuming dozens of productions around the area, assisting with Super Saturday, and as a member of the Tryon Hounds. Some may remember her from starring roles in A Philadelphia Story, The Miracle Worker, The (female) Odd Couple, and efforts with frequent collaborators Dean Campbell, Christine and Stephen Fitch, Marianne Brown, Elvin Clark, and so many others. She married Elvin, the love of her life, in 1986.
Around this time, Connie also wrote two one-woman shows, Emily (about Emily Dickinson) and Sarah (Sarah Bernhardt), roles she performed for audiences and students across the United States and Europe for the next 30 years. They also bookended facets of her personality that many of us knew and loved: on one hand, a quiet Yankee intellectual who enjoyed nothing more than staying home and creating beauty; and on the other, a charismatic force who owned every stage she trod.
In 1987, the family headed north to care for Connie’s own mother but returned to Polk County in 1995. Connie and Elvin returned to the theater with memorable productions such as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Camelot, Calendar Girls, and collaborations with the Warehouse Theatre, the Upstate Shakespeare Festival, Spartanburg Little Theatre, and others. Connie also touched the community in new ways, as a visiting instructor at Furman University and as bookkeeper for local businesses and individuals.
Although her public work slowed in recent years, hundreds of Playbills, Tryon Daily Bulletin stories, and luminous memories bespeak her legacy. Connie took her final bows surrounded by family in the mountains she called home. She is survived by husband Elvin, her children Lynne and Barry, granddaughter Petra, and echoes across dozens of stages around the world.
No memorial service is currently planned, but please feel free to applaud. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Foothills Humane Society, https://www.foothillshumanesociety.org/donate/.
An online guest register is available at www.mcfarlandfuneralchael.com
McFarland Funeral Chapel
Tryon, North Carolina