George and Jeanne Clark, who are currently receiving rehab care at Athens Rehab and Senior Care, are what you would call “long drinks of water.” That was my dad’s term for tall people, and they are indeed that—George is 6’5” and Jeanne is 5’9”. They are originally from Oklahoma, George having been born in Cushing, OK, and Jeanne in Ardmore, OK. (Yes, there really is an Ardmore in Oklahoma!) George and Jeanne have lived in Athens for over 30 years. Mr. and Mrs. Clark were married in 1950, and met while in college. To hear Miss Jeanne tell it, she went to a dance, hoping for a chance to dance with someone who was tall. George filled the bill, swept her off her feet, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The dance that changed their lives was held at Oklahoma State University, and George went on to get two degrees, a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State, and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the University of Houston. Jeanne studied Home Economics. He spent his career largely in the space program, and Jeanne used her Home Ec knowledge as a stay at home mom, raising two kids. Their daughter lives in Hoover, and their son is here in Athens. They have six grandkids and 8 great-grands.
George also served in the United States Navy during WWII in the Pacific theatre. He was aboard the USS Boxer, which was an aircraft carrier. (Please note, there have been six naval vessels that have had the same name, the most current is a Wasp series assault ship involved in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia.) The Boxer upon which George served was used for a number of things, including picking up Apollo spacecraft after they splashed down. He spent his career in the Space and Rocket industry here in Rocket City.
Obviously they loved to dance, and they both like Italian as well as Mexican food. George also has enjoyed history, particularly that of the Civil War. George didn’t have a favorite film star, but Jeanne liked Cary Grant. She says that of the two of them, “George is the better dancer,” and she also says, with obvious affection, “George is a very gentle guy.”
They have been lifelong Methodists, and members of First Methodist Church here in Athens for 30 years. Who is their favorite president? George W. Bush. Who is their favorite CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at Athens Rehab? “They are all good to us, but Rebecca is our favorite.” They have been pleased with the care and the food at Athens Rehab, saying both have “been excellent.”
What words of advice would they give to a young couple? “Be willing to help each other,” as well as “to be patient with each other,”said Jeanne. The other day Jeanne told her son that he must have gotten his patience from his father. He replied with a laugh, “Well, it certainly didn’t come from you.” That being said, I found them both to be dear folks, and it was my joy once again to have the chance to put the “Spotlight on a Senior,” courtesy of Athens Rehabilitation and Senior Care Center.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner