My tribute to Jeremy Clark:
“Ziad Abdelnour said a truly rich man is one whose children would run into his arms even when his hands are empty. Jeremy Clark was a wealthy man indeed. A loving father, he was able to be both gentle and tough, firm yet loving, and has been a great supporter in my various endeavours. A man I have greatly admired, he has been a valued role model, showing me what it is to be a patient, humble and kind man, slow to anger, and quick to apologise when wrong.
Many examples of this come to mind. In particular, I remember when a homeless man came into his church, hungry and asking for food. Never a man to turn people away, he took him around the corner to the local chippie and bought him a hot a meal. This simple act of kindness has long stuck with me, and I think it’s indicative of the sort of man he was. There are many other such stories, and I’m sure many here today will have their own tales of his servant heart, and his real care for people too.
Of course, he had his playful side as well. I recall all the play-fighting with him throughout my childhood, in which my brothers and I would swarm the poor man, climbing all over him and holding his legs together to trip him up. He was hopelessly outnumbered and didn’t stand a chance, but that serves him right for having four sons. I will also fondly remember the adventures of rhubarb the banana, the central character in many stories he made up for us as children.
During my teens, I also came to appreciate his intellect and quiet wisdom. Never a man to impose his advice, but glad to give it when asked, his suggestions were always thoughtful and carefully considered. I would enjoy quiet countryside walks with him, in which he provided thoughtful conversation or just quiet companionship. Indeed, his quiet demeanour was something I loved very much about him. We would also listen to music together, and he’d explain the history and meaning of each piece. In his final weeks, I would play that music for him, and in turn tell him about each piece, just as he had told me.
They say that the greatest thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother. This he did too; he has been a faithful and loving husband to my mother for 27 years. Likewise, she has been a most devoted wife, especially in looking after him throughout his cancer and deterioration, which I know was not easy. A testament to their strong partnership.
Lastly, my father was a man who loved Christ, and his faith has greatly impacted the sort of man he was. With a real heart for the gospel, his ministry has always been down to earth, and has touched many lives, making a real difference for people in many places, whether they were a part of his congregation or not. He spoke to me several times about how he looked forward to entering Heaven. I expect he shall be welcomed with those words from the book of Matthew: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
I shall miss this man of gentle fortitude. I am sad that he will not be there for my graduation, my wedding should I marry, nor to meet any of his grandchildren, and I shall miss his guidance, but I am grateful for the time I have had with him. My last words to him in our final conversation were to repeat something I had told him several years prior: ‘I may be taller than you, dad, but I will always look up to you.’
I am honoured to be called his son.”