Dr. Alpha Septimius Clark Jr. of McBain passed away on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at his home. He was born January 21, 1934 in Flint, Michigan to Alpha S. Clark Sr. and Elsie Elizabeth (McNeilly) Clark.
Alpha is survived by his children, Alpha Clark III, Linda (Kevin) Sherman of Sears, and David (Charity) Clark of McBain. He has four grandchildren, Travis (Samantha) Sherman of Traverse City, Casey (Nate) Green of Chase, Allyson Rae (fiancée, Newman Hoben) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and David G. (Andi) Clark of McBain, great grandchildren, Cole Green, Mason Green, Lane Green, Everett, Carmen, Elise, M.J., and Emma Clark. He has one surviving brother, Larry (Muriel) Clark of Sears and a sister-in-law, Betty Peterson of Grant Center.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Clyde (Corlie) Clark, in-laws, Harry Peterson, Vivian (Bruce) Bryde and Lois (Allen) Schroeder.
He graduated from Barryton High School at the age of 16 and then enrolled at Michigan State University to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He married Marlene Evelyn Peterson on July 31, 1955 and she preceded him in death on April 1, 2004. They lived in Lansing housing until he graduated in 1958. Alpha and Marlene then moved to Sears, where they milked cows, Marlene milked at noon and Alpha milked at midnight and also ran his practice out of their home. When Alpha started his practice, people milked by hand and a large herd was considered 30 milking cows.
In 1965 Alpha and Marlene moved to McBain with their three children, Alpha III, Linda, and David where they built their home and vet clinic, that soon flourished. Alpha would make farm calls at anytime of the day or night, 7 days a week. He put 100,000 miles on his El Caminos each year with a custom-built refrigeration unit in the box of the bed.
Alpha, along with his brothers, Clyde and Larry made the “Clydal Farm” an outstanding herd of registered Holstein cows. If Alpha and Marlene had any spare time, they would take a working vacation to visit other farms in the U.S. to look at their breeding programs and implement or add to their herd. It was always about the animals and their health and wellness. His work ethic was comparable to no other.
Alpha served as a President and a member of the board of the District VII Holstein Association for many years. Alpha and Marlene were very influential in this organization and formed many bonds with other breeders and dairymen throughout the country. In 1997 he was honored with the Master Breeder Award for the state of Michigan.
Alpha earned respect and loyalty in the 1970’s when his persistence showed that cows in Missaukee County ate feed that was contaminated with PBB. It wasn’t easy as he had to fight against many organizations in the state to prove what was complete human error that was trying to be covered up. He had to send samples out of state, and when officials in the state found out, they tried to punish him. Alpha said, “It scared the hell out of me.” He feared for his life and that the sheriff had told him to keep a gun in the car. His response was, “if they shoot me, they shoot me. As the mystery of all the unexplained cow illnesses and deaths unfolded, Alpha Clark was proven correct in his theories. He flew all over the world to talk about the PBB incident, going as far as England and Scotland. Alpha Clark’s PBB-related documents are now at Central Michigan University. “They’re an important part of the historical record, “said John Fierst, head of reference at the Clark Historical Library at Central Michigan University. Norm Keon, and epidemiologist said, “Dr. Clark is a hero in this whole thing.” Dr. Clark said, “it didn’t matter winning, it was about his clients being able to stay in business and make a living. It was a matter of doing what’s right.”
In 2018 we were able to celebrate with Alpha Clark his 60-year career mark with a party held at the Hughston Cow Camp grounds and the place was filled to capacity. As one note read, “We honor you for your 60 years of dedicated service in Missaukee County. Praise for your wisdom, knowledge, talent, and caring encouragement through the years”, with respect fondly, Larry and Shelby Norman and Alan and Kim Norman.
He was always able to keep an avid audience with his many stories from over 60 years of farm calls. He loved fishing with family and friends in Canada and hunting out west. He wanted to work every day and he accomplished that to the very end.
Private family services will be held at the Burkholder Family Funeral Home in McBain with Rev. Steve Boven officiating and a Celebration of Life will be on Monday from 12:00 Noon until 3:00 P.M. at the Hughston Cow Camp at McBain. Burial will be next to his wife in East Fork Cemetery, Barryton, Michigan. Funeral services were handled by the Burkholder Family Funeral Home in McBain and thoughts and prayers may be left at www.burkholderfamilyfuneralhome.com Heaven opened it's gates for an extraordinary veterinary.