William C. Clarke, Jr., a resident of New Hampshire since 1957, passed away peacefully in Peterborough on December 13, just a few days shy of his 98th birthday. Bill was an amiable but reserved individual, deeply committed to his wife of 75 years, Ann P. “Penny” Clarke, and beloved by his three sons and their wives, and as well by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Bill spent his early years in Westerly, Rhode Island. He attended Amherst College, from which he later graduated, until drafted into the US Army during the Second World War. He married his longtime sweetheart Ann in 1944, shortly before being deployed to Europe with the 94th Infantry Division. He saw action in France and Germany from the fall of 1944 through the end of the war in 1945.
After his return home in 1946, Bill began working in a series of sales jobs for large companies, but yearned to run his own business. That opportunity arrived in 1956, when Bill responded to an advertisement from a small stuffed toy company in Keene that was seeking a managing partner. Thus began his long association with Douglas Co., Inc. for which he served as vice-president and later president, CEO, and owner until his retirement in 1995. Douglas remains in Clarke family hands to this day, now run by his son Scott.
Bill was fond of sailing, golf, vegetable gardening, playing the piano, and reading. He set an example of diligence, independence, and hard work for his sons, and demonstrated a welcome capacity to change -- albeit reluctantly -- and adapt to new circumstances and new ideas. He cared deeply for those around him, and enjoyed the company of his extended family.
William C. Clarke, Jr., is survived by his wife Ann P. Clarke, now of Peterborough, NH; his sons William C. Clarke III, of Monkton, MD, Christopher S. Clarke of Rochester, NY, and Scott T. Clarke of Keene. He is also survived by 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
In accordance with Bill’s wishes, there will be no calling hours and no public memorial service. Memorial contributions to any charity are welcomed, as are the good wishes of those who may once have known or worked with him. His family gives thanks for a long and productive life, well lived and peacefully concluded.
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