Dr. Robert Smith Clarke, Jr., 92, of Due West, specialist in Internal Medicine, died July 5, 2013 in Abbeville. He served his nation in World War II as a combat marine and continued serving the people of Kentucky and South Carolina for more than half a century as a family physician, college physician, and cardiologist.
The longtime Due West, Erskine College, and Abbeville Memorial Hospital physician was town and college doctor from 1961-92 and medical director of the Abbeville Nursing Home, and part-time practitioner at Savannah Lakes Village until 2003. He was on the original staff of the Abbeville Memorial Hospital and served cardiology patients from a wide geographic area.
Dr. Clarke, son of the late Robert S. and Elizabeth Ione "Bessie" Blackwell Clarke, is survived by his wife of 62 years, Elizabeth "Beth" Sloan Clarke; two daughters, Elizabeth Ann Clarke Judd(Gene) of Charlotte, NC, and Catherine "Trinka" Clarke Dickey(David) of Savannah, GA; one son, Robert S. Clarke III(Paula) of Due West; six grandchildren, Ben Califf of Charleston, SC, Christina Shealy of Savannah, GA, and Robert, Lydia, Andrew, and Samuel Clarke of Due West; and one sister, Elizabeth Clarke Robertson of Chattanooga, TN., extended family member Florence Norman; 6 nieces and 2 nephews.
A graduate of Due West High School, Robert Clarke was inspired by his admiration of Due West physician Dr. W.L. "Buck" Pressly to an ambition to become a doctor. This dream was delayed by four years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps following his 1942 graduation from the University of South Carolina. As a Captain in the USMC, he fought in the early World War II battles of Tulagi and Guadalcanal and received the Purple Heart for a wound received at Peleliu in Palau, a strategically important Pacific Island.
Following his discharge from the Marines in 1946, he entered the Medical University of South Carolina, receiving his M.D. in 1950. In 1951, after an internship at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, he practiced for a year in Due West with Dr. Pressly. He later served as medical director of the Eastern Coal Corporation in Stone, KY, and directed the health services at Clemson College. He completed a residency and fellowship in cardiology at MUSC and Roper Hospitals in Charleston in 1960. He then returned to his family farm in Due West and established his private practice.
He was married in 1951 to Beth Sloan, daughter of Dr. Everette Askins and Ann Pressly Sloan. Dr. Sloan was longtime chemistry professor and academic dean at Erskine College.
Dr. Clarke was beloved as a personal care physician, often paying personal visits to patients. He was honored by the Town of Due West and the staff at Abbeville Memorial Hospital on his retirement, and Erskine College recognized his long service as college physician by naming him to its Academic Hall of Fame. He served on the Board of Visitors for the Medical University of South Carolina and the Abbeville County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees. In 1991 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Abbeville Rotary Club and was inducted into the Abbeville Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. In 2004 he was presented the Pioneer Award by the South Carolina Rural Health Association for significant contributions to the delivery of primary health care in a rural environment.
The family wishes to express deepest appreciation for the loving support and comfort provided to Dr. Clarke over the past few years. Those who provided support include the medical, nursing, and support staff at Abbeville Area Medical Center, Home Health Care, and many friends and colleagues who provided care at home. Mary Gingerich, Twila Swartzentruber, Anthony Swartzentruber, Dr. Heidi Rodillo, Dr. Evangeline Gonzales, and Dr. Chris Ceraldi, for their extraordinary wisdom and support.
Memorials in memory of Dr. Clarke may be made to the Abbeville Area Medical Center Foundation, 420 Thomson Circle Abbeville, SC 29620, the Due West Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church PO Box 397 Due West, SC 29639 or to Erskine College PO Box 338 Due West, SC 29639.
Funeral services will be conducted Monday July 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM in the Due West ARP Church with the Revs. Dr. Randle Ruble and Robbie Bell officiating. The burial will follow in the church cemetery with Military Honors.
The family will receive friends Sunday afternoon at Chandler-Jackson Funeral Home from 3:00 until 5:00 PM. The family is at the residence 5431 Hwy. 184 East Donalds, SC.