DEDHAM - Stephen Sumner Clark, 91 of Bangor and Lucerne-in-Maine died following a long battle with congestive heart failure at on February 27, 2021, at a Bangor hospital. He was born April 5, 1929, in Hampden, the son of Sumner and Sylvia (Drillen) Clark of West Winterport.
A child of the Great Depression, Stephen became resourceful at an early age. He learned to hunt and fish on their family land. They farmed, kept sheep and dairy cows which produced enough milk to share with neighbors. His father, the local school teacher molded, Stephen to be a kind, calm and patient man, a lifelong learner and lover of reading.
Stephen graduated from Winterport High School in 1946 at the age of 17 with a strong desire to serve his country. After enrolling at the University of Maine he also enlisted in the Maine Army National Guard and was assigned to the 136th Engineer Combat Co. He graduated from UMO in 1950 with a degree in Psychology. Stephen would describe his class as a mixture of men and boys; WWII veterans on the GI Bill and boys like himself who weren’t old enough to join the war effort. Following college, Stephen continued to serve in the guard as a traditional guardsman, over the years advancing in the enlisted ranks. Following his commission as an officer he transferred to the HHC 240th Engineer Group. He served a total of 23 years retiring as a Captain in 1969.
Following college Stephen found employment in banking at the Household Finance Company. It became an exciting first job and tested Stephen’s ability to remain calm when a man entered his office pointing a gun at him to rob the branch. After a short stint in finance he began his career in wholesale sales, starting with ACME Dunham and later at Gregg Distributors. He found sales and sales management an enjoyable career that allowed him to extensively travel the State of Maine. Eventually Stephen transitioned into executive positions, early on at Northeastern Retail Lumber Association and the National Forest Products Association. In 1985 he agreed to take an interim position at Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NeLMA). What was supposed to be a temporary position he found to be a perfect fit, he loved working at NeLMA and those he worked with. 16 years later at the age of 71 Stephen retired as President of NeLMA, leaving behind a wonderful legacy.
Stephen met the love of his life, Bette Lou (Elizabeth) Wilkins of Wilton, ME during a snowstorm. He had offered to drive one of the secretaries at ACME home, she accepted on the condition that they pick up her roommate to get her home safely as well. Bette, the roommate was already wearing the “pin” of another suitor, but it was love at first sight. On November 16, 1957 they married. They had two children, Stephen Jr. “Stevie” and David. Stephen shared his love of the Maine outdoors with his boys and their close friends, teaching and inspiring them as well as creating many wonderful memories. While Bette was pregnant with Stevie, Stephen and his closet friend from the guard purchased adjacent lots on Phillips Lake/Lucerne. It was there that Stephen built a camp from trees that he cut from his family land in West Winterport. Simultaneous to building the camp Stephen was key in building Streamside Golf Course back on the family farm. Summers were spent at the lake where neighbors became family. After over 40 years splitting time between Bangor and the lake, Stephen and Bette made the lake their permanent home.
Stephen is survived by his wife of nearly 65 years, Bette; son, David and his wife, Elizabeth (Allen); and grandchildren, Abigail, Benjamin and Hudson, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, Stevie and David’s first wife, Alison (Bayer).
The family wishes to thank Northern Light Home Care and the staff at NL EMMC for the wonderful care they provided to Stephen over the years. Friends and family are welcome to share conversation from 3-5pm, Friday, March 5, 2021, at the Family Reception Center of Brookings-Smith, 163 Center St., Bangor. Those who wish to remember Stephen in a special way, may make gifts to the Dedham/Lucerne Fire Department 8 Bald Mountain Rd., Dedham, Maine 04429. Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com.