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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, October 11, 2002

Running community will remember Marshall Clark Running community will remember Marshall Clark (October 11, 2002)

Memorial service for former Stanford assistant coach, whose career spanned five decades, set for Saturday

by Keith Peters

Sometime in the early evening on Saturday, when the sun has begun to set and the air in the Saratoga hills is still, a group of runners plans to remember one of their own.

Their special tribute will start with a jog around the track at Saratoga High and then continue into the streets. Many of the runners will be former Stanford athletes, who will be traveling to the area this weekend to honor a man who was so important in their lives.

Marshall Clark.

Clark, 69, whose career spanned five decades, passed away Sept. 30 from an apparent heart attack while doing something he loved - coaching and running with his Saratoga High cross-country team.

"I was devastated to learn that one of the finest of men and coaches has been taken from us," said Payton Jordan, who had Clark as his assistant coach at Stanford from 1968-78. "Only a very few people were as caring, loyal, and of such integrity that he possessed. I will miss him, and his friendship will be something I will treasure always. He was a person who made a very special difference in the lives of those privileged to know him."

Those who knew Clark and those who knew of him, and those number in the thousands, will gather Saturday at Saratoga High for a special memorial service in the main gym at 4 p.m. Jordan will travel from his home in Santa Barbara to eulogize his friend and fellow coach.

Several former Stanford runners from the 1960s and '70s are planning to meet informally in the Saratoga High quad at 3 p.m., to share remembrances of Clark. Following the formal memorial service, the school's track will be dedicated in Clark's name. Then, some of his former runners will honor him the best way they know --- by running.

Clark, after all, was so influential in the running community throughout his life --- from coaching at Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights in 1958, to Seaside, and on to Stanford where he helped develop distance All-Americans like Brook Thomas (1968), Greg Brock (1968), and Olympians like Don Kardong (1976 Games), Duncan Macdonald (1976) and Tony Sandoval (boycotted 1980 Games). He helped guide the Stanford cross-country team to a second-place finish at the 1968 NCAA championships.

After his stint at Stanford, which included serving as head coach for the USA track team at the 1972 International Indoor Meet in Moscow, Russia, Clark was head track & field coach at Montana (1978-80) and at San Jose State (1984-88, when the program was disbanded) before moving on to Saratoga High.

"He tried to build men and not just champions," Jordan said. "As a result, everyone was better for having him as a mentor . . . He made a difference in everyone's lives who knew him."

Kardong, who was fourth in the '76 Olympic marathon, remembered Clark fondly.

"He was equally happy coaching runners who no one has ever heard of, runners who simply wanted to be better," Kardong said. "He loved coaching high school runners as much as college stars. Maybe more so.

"Every place he went, great athletes and teams emerged."

Said former Saratoga High standout Will Kraemer, in an open letter to California Track & Running News following Clark's death: "Marshall was a person who would never demand anything. But he could receive anything he wanted. A person everybody knows. No one could ever say a bad thing about him. Selflessness is something I now strive for because of him . . . he gave me so much more than I could have ever asked for from anyone."

Clark took over the track and cross-country programs at Saratoga High in 1991 and took the Falcons to a competitive level achieved only by the best teams in the Central Coast Section. He was named winner of the prestigious CCS Honor Coach Award for track & field in 1999-2000.

Clark is survived by his wife, Carol, his son Richard, daughters Stacy and Shannon, two step daughters and six grandchildren.

Richard and Shannon followed in their father's running footsteps and ran for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and USC, respectively.

Nothing could have made dad more proud.


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