Philip W. Clarke of Montclair, a longtime AT&T executive, died peacefully on Jan. 9, 2021, at his home. He was 97.
Mr. Clarke was born in Watertown, New York, in 1923 to Edward Way Clarke and Marjorie Antoinette Patrick Clarke. His childhood years were spent in Watertown.
Following high school he began studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, majoring in electrical engineering. At the end of his third year at RPI he was called up by the U.S. Navy in 1944 for service in World War II.
Mr. Clarke served on the destroyer minelayer USS Thomas E. Fraser, participating in the preparation for the assault on Iwo Jima and later on Okinawa. He served as lieutenant JG in charge of radar until the end of the war, returning to RPI to complete his degree.
In 1947 he married his fiancée, Carolyn “Connie” Amos, of Watertown, who had just completed her tour of duty as a U.S. Navy WAVE code breaker, stationed in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Clarke spent the majority of his professional life working as an executive for AT&T’s Manhattan office, establishing a home in 1952 in Montclair. After a full career with AT&T, he retired to pursue his many interests.
He and his wife were active members of Union Congregational Church in Montclair since 1953, and he devoted many years of his retirement as assistant to the treasurer, being known as “The Finance Guy.”
He had a passion for stamp collecting and was an active member of his local philatelic society for many years. He was a member of the Montclair Dunworkin Club and of the Montclair Republicans.
Mr. Clarke’s neighbors knew him as the “guy who helped everybody,” with the unofficial title of “The Mayor of Essex Avenue.” He spent hundreds of hours volunteering with recycling management for Montclair and was also known for his love of classical music, The Wall Street Journal and crossword puzzles.
He was a great conversationalist with an amazing memory for stories, a wonderful laugh and, most significantly, an endearing attachment to his various pet cats through the years. Throughout his life, as long as he was able, he traveled north annually to revisit his family and childhood friends in Watertown and held the locale in high esteem.
He was devoted to his extended family and will be terribly missed by all who knew him simply as “Uncle Phil.”
Mr. Clarke is survived by three nieces, Marion O’Driscoll of Horseheads, New York, Joanne Charles of Orlean, Virginia, and Patricia Nelson of Martinsville, Indiana; a nephew, Eric Fleming of Copenhagen, New York; five great-nieces, two great-nephews and seven great-great nieces.
He was predeceased in 2012 by his wife of 65 years, Carolyn A. Clarke, and in March 2020 by his only sibling, Carol Fleming of Copenhagen, New York.
A memorial service will be held on May 8 at 11 a.m. at Union Congregational Church. Mr. Clarke will be laid to rest at Brookside Cemetery in Watertown with full military honors at a date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to Union Congregational Church would be appreciated.
Arrangements were by the Hugh M. Moriarty Funeral Home.