Cover photo for Frances Kingsford Clark's Obituary
Frances Kingsford Clark Profile Photo
1922 Frances 2018

Frances Kingsford Clark

May 27, 1922 — January 18, 2018

Frances (Franny) Kingsford Clark, 95, died January 18, at Brookhaven in Lexington Mass. with her daughter, Frances H. Clark, beside her.

Frances K. Clark loved fun; her laugh would make a party. She celebrated her family, her heritage (she was a lineal descendant of Alexander Hamilton) and her community. Everything was merrier still if there was a horse, a dog or a penguin involved.

Born May 27, 1922 in New York City, Franny was the younger, vivacious daughter of Irving Bowdoin and Eliza Hoffman Kingsford of New York, N.Y. and Bernardsville, N.J. A competitive and accomplished rider at a young age, she graduated from Foxcroft School in 1940.

She met her husband-to-be, Lieutenant Grenville Clark, Jr., USMCR, in Arizona, barely two months after Pearl Harbor. He was on medical leave and she was vacationing with her parents. "I think we were the only two young people in all of Tucson," she once said. They married in Bernardsville, N.J. on December 4, 1943.

They settled in Cambridge, Mass. at the end of the war where she launched her life as an active mother of five energetic children and a singularly perceptive volunteer in the Boston and North Shore communities.

"We skied, sailed, sledded, skated and rode. We swam. My brother loved golf. We took lessons in almost anything you could name. We were encouraged always to go outdoors," her daughter Julie remembered.

A lover of animals from a young age, Mrs. Clark cheerfully welcomed new members to a revolving menagerie. As her daughter Grace once recalled, "We rescued Huey, a baby raccoon one summer who followed me, chirping, in and out of our house. Sometimes, I would wake up in the morning and find him sitting in the breadbox. Or trying out lipstick on my sister's dressing table."

After her divorce in 1970, she became the "Great Convener" -- offering a warm retreat for family reunions and countless holidays as well as an elegant backdrop for two exuberant weddings at her summer home in Beverly Farms.

She traveled widely, preparing carefully with deep study of each region's history and culture. She and her camera ranged from Norway to the Caribbean, from Mexico to Alaska, from the Galapagos to Africa. "Why Africa?" her son Danny said, "For the animals, of course."

Equally attentive to her local community, Frances Clark volunteered at Mt. Auburn Hospital, The Trustees of Reservations, WGBH, and the Greater Beverly YMCA, among others. But the organization that most fully won her heart was The New England Aquarium. "Outspoken at meetings, she was always sharp for a better way to run things," her daughter Frances said.

Frances K. Clark was a founding member of the NEAQ Associate Board; she served on the Board of Trustees from 1976 until 2002. She was as eager as any child on the Aquarium's opening day in June of 1969, as all of Boston awaited the arrival of the very first penguins, flying in from Africa to their new home.

She remained a versatile and ardent steward of NEAQ, insisting always, 'exhibits should be enchanting as well as educational.' Rewarded for her outstanding service, Jerry Schubel, President and CEO of the Aquarium, wrote, "You enrich this institution in so many ways, I can't imagine it without you."

Frances Kingsford Clark is survived by her children: Grenville Clark, III, of Harrisville, N.H., Julia Irving Clark Boak of New York, N.Y., Frances Hamilton Clark of Wilson, Wyo., and Daniel Dwight Clark of Frisco, Colo., as well as four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Her daughter, Grace deForest Clark, of New York, N.Y., died July 18, 2017.

Her family wishes to thank the staff at the Babson Unit of Brookhaven, Adams Nursing and Home Instead and the dedicated, longtime team of Todd Koen, Pat O'Neil and Debbi Schipiletti for their years compassionate, entertaining and thoughtful care.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 11 am at Emmanuel Church, 24 Masconomo Street, Manchester-by-The Sea, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to the New England Aquarium. Burial will be private in Bernardsville, N.J.


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