Jack W. Clark: Perseverance Got Him Where He Is

 jack-clark-in-front-of-his-classic-carJack W. Clark: When Luck Presented, He Ran With It…

 He looks every bit like his alter-ego—that charming, perennially-young  “American Bandstand” icon, Dick Clark.  In reality, Jack Wade Clark is a case study for why folks should never make assumptions about others.

 In his youth, he was seen, by other classmates, as privileged. After all, he was tall, good-looking, the son of a successful builder. But life dealt him blows in his later teen years, when his father’s business went bust; his parents divorced; and his mother suffered a debilitating disease.

That’s when Jack mustered what’s his probably greatest asset—perseverance in the face of adversity.

Today, he’s seen as the epitome of good taste, in summer “dress casual” of polo shirt, Bermuda shorts and boat shoes. And these days (at least for most of the year), he runs his real estate business out of his office at 6300 Post Road, North Kingstown.

But his life’s taken a circuitous route.

Jack was the older child and son of Jack W. Clark, a Pennsylvania native who came to Rhode Island as a Navy Seabee, and Pulaski St. resident, Genevieve (Andruchow) Clark. Following marriage, the couple lived on Manchester St. in Crompton and father Jack parlayed his construction talent into a successful career as builder.

As a member of the John F. Deering (now West Warwick High School) class of 1963, Jack wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life, but he’d acquired skills, working alongside his father in the building trade.

The road ahead was bumpy. His parents’ divorce saw him living with each parent, separately, in West Warwick and East Greenwich, while money was so tight Jack had to scrape financing together for his college education.

That meant he worked any odd jobs he could get.

In his first year as commuter to the University of Rhode Island (in ’64) ,he hitched rides along route 2. He mentally thanks the many West Warwick-ites who picked him up, as they went to their jobs in the Kenyon Textile Mill.

He laughs, too, about the oil delivery person, covered in grease, who stopped for him, no doubt sympathetic to a young man’s standing in the cold, balancing books, his ROTC uniform, and his lunch.

Even hitchhiking proved a boon, for one driver was a supervisor at that same Kenyon Mills Textile Factory, a man so impressed by Clark’s perseverance that he offered him a job, second shift, in his factory. Jack took that job.

With money earned, Jack finally bought his first car (for $75.00,) signaling the end of his hitchhiking.

He graduated from URI in 1968, with a Business Administration degree.

Following graduation, he entered the military, but lucked out, there, too, for he was assigned duty in Korea (rather than Viet Nam,) missing the combat so many of his peers endured.

In that job, he got to handle the books and accounting for a private club called the “Generals’ Mess,’ a posh socializing venue restricted to top brass and their staff.

When he came home from the service, he drove by the real estate office on Post Rd. that was “For Sale,” a business owned by his father’s former realtor—Lee Littlefield.

Jack bought it.

That, too, seemed kismet, for Littlefield encouraged Jack to get his realtor’s license. It made sense:  Jack had a head for business and finance, and he was good with people.

All his many jobs had given him gifts.

The beginning years were tough with the market, at points hitting 21% interest rates. Hardly anyone was buying which meant people weren’t selling, either. That’s when Jack dug quahogs and sold them from a panel truck with a brother-in-law in Connecticut.

In other words, he persevered…Just as he had…always, and weathered the market, becoming a successful realtor.

It’s safe to say: When others made lemonade out of lemons, Jack made chowder out of quahogs.

His wife and partner in his many ventures? Childhood sweetheart Carolyn (Kulas) Clark who similarly grew up in Crompton.  They’d go on to have two children, and Carolyn ran her own successful business as hair-stylist.  Recently, the couple celebrated a milestone–their 50th wedding anniversary.

In the past year, Jack and Carolyn bought a second home in Englewood, Florida, on the west coast, where they go to escape the winter blasts, but they do not call Florida home state.

‘Why Englewood?’

‘Not as busy as many parts of Florida,’ he says.

But they return each spring to Rhode Island to their permanent home, a modern structure designed by a RISD grad that sits near the ocean, in North Kingstown. Proximity to the sea allows Jack his seasonal hobby, harvesting quahogs, clams, and mussels.

He says he could never leave Rhode Island and rattles off his reasons:  ‘The Bay…the hills…the mixture of people of different ages….Fall….the trees.’

This West Warwick native enjoys the real and significant fruits of his labor…

And he recognizes, too, just how fortunate he is…..

clark-jack-in-office

***Got someone you’d like to see up in lights? Send their name, contact info, and why you think they’d be good candidate to ckmellor@cox.net with “Kent County People” in subject line. Your nominee doesn’t need to be current resident..he/she should exhibit a strong connection to West Warwick/Coventry.

The Real Fabric of West Warwick: Its People: Gary Gallucci

 

This West Warwick native, son of William and Jeannine (Cayouette) Gallucci, gary-gallucci-and-carol-romano-croppedcontemplates where he and his wife, Carol, might live in the future, when they retire. Like many others, they consider southern realms (Florida), possibly renting for a while, before buying.

If anything, Gary carefully studies situations, before he acts.

After all, he didn’t marry until the ripe old age of 32, for that’s when he met Carol (formerly Romano), the woman with whom he has three children.

I met him on Facebook (seriously). And I was intrigued with Gary Gallucci’s committed following, all due to his Facebook posts.

I call him a “Provocateur” in that he writes about a situation and asks readers how they’d respond. In other words, he provokes thoughts and reactions.

Here’s a paraphrased version of his last week’s post: “Your neighborhood’s been hit with a rash of robberies and the last victim was your neighbor who was robbed of a genuine, $40,000 gem-studded necklace that’s been in the family for generations. The neighbor is understandably upset. While cleaning out a closet of your home, in the far reaches, you find a box filled with coins and valuables that you don’t recognize. On the very top layer is the afore-mentioned glittering necklace. What do you do?”

The comments come in and reflect the attitude of each player, from “serious” (“Report your wife to the cops,”) to “sublime:”  (“Pack for Venezuela.”)

Gary’s regulars all weigh in, and the conversation gets lively.

What questions get the most mileage? ‘Politics and guns,’ he says ‘always.’

But while these topics generate intense debate, neither side convinces the other, just like our nation’s electoral debate going on, right now.

In this, Gary’s merely preparing for his next act in life, as fiction writer, one who makes up possible scenarios and characters. He’s flexing his creative muscles, in advance, tapping into what his readers like and playing off their responses.

Once a short term writer for Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times (he wanted the sports column but another reporter already had it), he worked for GTECH for 17.5 years, from 1983 to early 2001 and then  APC/Schneider Electric in West Kingston, for another fifteen years  to present.

That thiry-year combination makes him ‘the only person who has worked that long for both powerhouse companies in Rhode Island.’

His particular job description? Tech writer who creates specific language to go along with the products his company sells. He also facilitates the sales force in their marketing and training.

He says a ‘creative writer can become a technical writer, but a tech writer can’t necessarily be a creative writer.’ He thinks of himself as ‘creative.’

Like his Facebook posts, Gary enjoys conundrums.

But he adds, with impish good humor that ‘perseverance, loyalty, and general lack of interest in finding another job’ contributed to his longevity in his job.

Gary Gallucci grew up on Providence Street, in the Natick section of West Warwick, the son of the West Warwick police chief, in an Italian/French family whose many relatives lived nearby. Family togetherness is what he values most from his West Warwick upbringing.

Now, this West Warwick native lives in Johnston, for that’s where wife Carol lived, when he met her.

But it’s where his life brings him next that most intrigues, for I believe Gary will write his novel and maybe even a series of novels…

He’s merely testing the waters and building audience on Facebook.

He’s taking risks and stepping out, inviting a community to respond.

And his Facebook prompts get a lot of attention.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s Gary Gallucci’s Facebook address, so you, too, can partake in the spirited “conversations”… https://www.facebook.com/gary.gallucci?fref=ts

While we all await his novels.

.  ***Got someone you’d like to see up in lights? Send their name, contact info, and why you think they’d be good candidate to ckmellor@cox.net with “Kent County People” in subject line. Your nominee doesn’t need to be current residents..he/she should exhibit a strong connection to West Warwick/Coventry.

West Warwick native, Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net), is a motivational speaker and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Scripps-Howard, and many regional newspapers. She is author to the children’s books Grandpa and the Truck (grandpaandthetruck.com) and is regular commentator in the Providence Journal. She currently completes “The Asheville Experiment,” the story of her and her husband’s nine year life in one of America’s trendiest little retirement towns—a cautionary tale for all those who consider a move.  In this book, she tells what went wrong and why they returned to live, full time in Rhode Island. Her website is colleenkellymellor.com

 

The Real Fabric of West Warwick: Rep. Pat Serpa

serpa, patPatricia Serpa:  ‘I Know a Guy’ Gets New Meaning

We’ve all heard the phrase above and we usually associate it with someone in the Mafia or the Underworld, someone who’s busily at work in nefarious activity, someone who skirts legitimate channels.

That’s not how Representative Patricia Serpa, District 27, understands the phrase. She says she associates it with an unreported aspect of her job, as when a constituent calls her, desperate to know how he or she can help an addicted relative and Serpa gives the caller the name of an expert who can advise, or when she suggests to another where he or she can go for help in a domestic abuse situation.

“That’s when ‘I know a guy’ can be critical,” she says.

Her support system is a network of people she has established over the ten year period she has served in the legislature.  She knows where and how to direct people, to cut out the confusion such individuals in crisis face.

Serpa doesn’t worry about her recent failing grade assigned her by what she calls the ‘ultra-conservative group,’ Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. She believes  townspeople see her as fighting for them, supporting their hard-working, conservative-leaning  principles.

She believes they appreciate her hands-on involvement in so many areas. And she credits her years as teacher (she retired after twenty-eight years) and more years as school counselor that allow her to work successfully with ‘the bad boys’ of the General Assembly.

Years ago, Pat was a teacher at John F. Horgan Elementary School, and at the end of twenty-eight years, she went on to a two-day-a-week guidance counselor position at Norwood Elementary School in Cranston.  Following that, she became part-time Admissions Officer at Johnson and Wales University for another fifteen years.

Along the way, she served on the West Warwick School Committee for six years.

When asked how she got into the General Assembly, she said former House of Representative from district 27, Norman Landroche suggested she replace him at the end of his term. He believed in Serpa, whereas she feared the prospect of serving ‘with all those men and all those lawyers.’

She needn’t have worried. She’s risen to the challenge over many years.

This daughter of Constance and Adolph Petrarca  grew up in Crompton, on Robinson Way,  went to St. James church and St. James School, and then went on to high school at St. Xavier. Because she felt isolated and ‘socially inept’ as a result of her girls-only secondary school experience, she’s a firm proponent of co-ed schooling.

Her social awkwardness didn’t persist, however:  In 1985, she married former Providence firefighter, Joseph Serpa, and she has a grown son from a previous marriage.

Her proudest achievements while in the House? Her advocacy of those affected with mental health issues and her facilitation of small business concerns. During the 2015 session, Serpa sponsored a law providing coverage for seven days of residential/inpatient services for opioid treatment and in 2014, the General Assembly passed a bill she sponsored, requiring insurers to provide coverage for the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders under the same terms and conditions as coverage provided for other illnesses and diseases.

She chaired the House Committee on Small Business at a point when it passed a critical utilities tax relief bill, reining in utilities, gas, fuel, etc., and she currently chairs the House Oversight Committee, committed to improving state government efficiency and accountability.

All of which brought up the following:  How to insure a debacle like 38 Studios never happens again.

When asked how a loan to Curt Schilling’s improbable video game venture made it past the legislature, Serpa answered:  “We voted on a loan guarantee we were told would be available to multiple businesses for their improvement and growth. We were never told it was for one business.”

“I wish leaders in place at the time had told us the whole truth.” Instead they ‘were deceitful,’ Serpa said.

She feels all legislators now bear the brunt of that deceit.

In assigning responsibility for wrong-doing, Serpa clearly differentiates herself from nefarious others she mentioned at the outset of our interview…

You know—the usual ones who say ‘I know a guy.’

***Got someone you’d like to see up in lights? Send their name, contact info, and why you think they’d be good candidate to ckmellor@cox.net with “Kent County People” in subject line. Your nominee doesn’t need to be current residents..he/she should exhibit a strong connection to West Warwick/Coventry.

West Warwick native, Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net), is a motivational speaker and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Scripps-Howard, and many regional newspapers. She is author to the children’s books Grandpa and the Truck (grandpaandthetruck.com) and is regular commentator in the Providence Journal. She currently completes “The Asheville Experiment,” the story of her and her husband’s nine year life in one of America’s trendiest little retirement towns—a cautionary tale for all those who consider a move.  In this book, she tells what went wrong and why they returned to live, full time in Rhode Island. Her website is colleenkellymellor.com