Grace Clarke of Lawrenceville, NJ (previously of Pennington, NJ & NYC) died of natural causes April 5, 2020 at age 96 three weeks after the passing of her identical twin sister and roommate Stella Stewart. She is survived by and predeceased by many loving family and friends.
Grace was a life-long Presbyterian, generous, non-materialistic, scientifically minded, lover of biology, highly pragmatic, project organizer, avid gardener, family storyteller and Scot/Brit. She would be baffled by people defying science and denying the Covid-19 pandemic’s existence. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed completing this obituary and holding a memorial for Grace and her sister.
Grace was always organizing some charitable project at church, at work or at home. The last years of her life her project was caring for her sicker sister. After Stella died, Grace said, “my work is done.” Stella passed away with Grace at her side and Grace passed away with Stella watching from above.
Grace and Stella were born in NYC in 1923 to a Scottish lady’s maid and a classic silent English butler. With their brother, A. Roger Clarke (our Dad), they lived in a modest “railroad flat” near the Hunter schools which they attended through college. Grace’s lifelong passions took shape there: devotion to the church (Madison Avenue Presbyterian [MAPC] and later Pennington Presbyterian); lover of education; service to others; devotion to family and lover of science.
Grace and Stella’s strong mother made sure they were the first women in the family to go to college where Grace, a biology major, went on to have successful careers as a research biologist, biology teacher, guidance counselor and a vice-principal of guidance. Grace also was the first woman deacon of MAPC.
During WWII, while serving as a researcher, Grace tested the impact of radiation on mice as part of the Manhattan project (the purpose of which she and her colleagues were unaware and, once revealed, she regretted). After being a researcher, she got an Education Masters leading to her real love, teaching and other educational positions.
Being a “singleton” as Grace called her unmarried state, Grace was devoted to us, her brother’s kids, her cousin’s children and many friends, leading us all on countless adventures. Grace shared her love of nature as we walked the Long Island shore or ventured inland to woods, ponds and fields where she could name all the flora and fauna. Now, whenever we are in nature, we can hear her identifying the owl hooting overhead, the approaching bird or a little creature scurrying by.
Grace retired to her sister’s and husband’s Pennington, NJ home where she continued many projects. Fellow church members were fond of saying, “No one ever said no to Grace.” But, to Grace, work was play and “in her DNA.”
Grace is survived by: her cousin Fred Clarke & family of TX; her brother’s children Randall Clarke of CO, Jordan Clarke (Valerie) of NJ & his daughter Chelsea (fiancé Ryan) of CA/NY and Holly Clarke of NYC; her nephew in-law Russell Lidman (Raven Clarke Lidman d.) of WA and their children Hannah Lidman Schiovitz (Dan) & sons Ezra & Elias, and Shane Lidman (Lisa) & son Max; her cousin’s children Betsy Yost Schlossman (Marty d.) of KS & family, Mady Gach (Dick d.) of NY & family, and Peter Yost (Kathy) & family of VA; other relatives from Scotland to American Samoa and many extended family and friends.
Grace was predeceased by her twin sister Stella Stewart, her brother A. Roger Clarke of NY (1st wife Gay, 2nd wife Jeannette), A. Roger’s daughter Raven Clarke Lidman of WA, her cousins Betty Yost (George d.) of FL and Peggy Grant of NJ, and her closest friend Marjorie Winchester of NJ.
More detailed obituaries with photos of both Grace Clarke and Stella Stewart are at https://www.blackwellmh.com of Pennington, NJ. In lieu of flowers, Grace wished that contributions be made to Pennington Presbyterian Church (https://pennpres.org/online-giving/). Memorial plans have been delayed due to Covid-19.