Cover photo for Gary James Clarke's Obituary
Gary James Clarke Profile Photo

Gary James Clarke

September 7, 1947 — March 13, 2024

Maggie Valley

Gary James Clarke

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Gary James Clarke on March 13, 2024, near Maggie Valley, North Carolina, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 76. Gary was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and a distinguished public servant whose life was one of love and accomplishment. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947 and raised in Southern California, he led a fulfilling life with an unwavering dedication to his family and public health.


Gary is remembered for his kind heart and brilliant mind. His academic pursuits took him from La Salle High School in Pasadena to the halls of the University of California, Riverside, where he played varsity baseball, participated in student government, and earned the Thomas Broadbent Award for Outstanding Graduating Male Senior in 1969. Most importantly, it was there that he met and soon married Susan, his devoted wife of 55 years. Gary earned a master’s degree at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and a J.D. from George Washington University in Washington D.C. Trained as an attorney, Gary's passion for healthcare and public service guided his career, particularly with the state of Florida where he held several roles and left an indelible mark as the director of Medicaid. For many years, he spearheaded initiatives that not only enhanced the public health sector but also extended vital support to underserved communities. Later, he continued his healthcare policy work in the private sector, including at the law firm of Sternstein, Rainer and Clarke, and served on several boards, most notably the Brain Injury Association of Florida. Gary also earned honors for his many contributions. Among those he cherished most were the 1991 Public Service Award from UCR and the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed in 2013 by the Florida Association of Health Plans.


Gary and Susan spent many years in Tallahassee, Florida, raising their family and building community, making lifelong friendships along the way. In retirement, Gary found solace and happiness in the mountains of North Carolina, where he enjoyed watching college sports, especially his favorite Florida State Seminoles; gardening and landscaping, spending time with family and friends, and playing tennis and golf at Maggie Valley Country Club. Love, compassion, generosity, hard work and devotion to family were his guiding principles.

Gary is preceded in death by his parents, Alexander and Pauline Clarke, and infant brother David. Gary's legacy is carried forward by his wife, Susan; their children, Elizabeth Clarke (Jeff Ostrowski), Jeffrey Clarke (Sarah), Sarah Clarke Stuart, and John Howard Clarke (Deanna Gates); and grandchildren Alexis Stuart, Isabel Ostrowski, Katherine Clarke, Michael Ostrowski, Andrew Clarke, Isaac Stuart, and Amelia Clarke. He is also remembered by his brother, Robert Clarke (Jeanne Labozetta), sister-in-law Barbara Gundy (Gary Paudler), and many other dear family members and friends around the country.


A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. April 14, 2024, at Grace Church in the Mountains, 394 N. Haywood Street, Waynesville, NC, 28786. A reception will follow. 


In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163 :  or a charity of your choice.


The family is deeply grateful for the loving care provided by the staff at Silver Bluff Village in Canton, North Carolina, and Haywood Hospice.

The care of Mr. Clarke has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville 
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gary James Clarke, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, April 14, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Grace Church in The Mountains

394 N Haywood St, Waynesville, NC 28786

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