USAO News Bureau

CLARK, Betty (Cavender)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Betty Clark, longtime resident of Norman and trusted confidant to many of all ages and distinction, died on 6 December 2008, just a few weeks after family and friends staged a gala 90th birthday celebration in her honor. Betty Earle Cavender was born on 1 September 1918 in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated from McAlester (Oklahoma) High School in 1935 and from the Oklahoma College for Women in 1939. She then joined the Works Progress Administration and, despite her extreme youth, quickly advanced to supervisory positions.

She married the late William Robert (Bob) Clark, then a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, on 5 February 1942. The couple had two children, Robert Dean Clark of Tulsa and William Vaughn Clark of Oklahoma City. Her husband remained in the Army after World War II and the Clarks lived the nomadic life typical for military families until his retirement in 1962. Because of his administrative talents, Bob Clark was usually assigned to a major headquarters and, consequently, he and Betty became professionally and personally associated with many important military leaders of the 1940s and 1950s. These included Omar Bradley and Nathan Twining (both of whom served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Andrew Goodpasture (NATO commander and advisor to several presidents), Frank Armstrong (the central figure in the famous movie 12 O’clock High), and Anthony McAuliffe (commander of all Army personnel in Europe and hero of the Battle of the Bulge).The Clarks settled permanently in Norman in 1962 and Betty went to work for the Office of Admissions and Records at the University of Oklahoma.

Because she was an avid and knowledgeable sports fan, she quickly became the ""go to"" person in the administration when the athletic department needed assistance in negotiating the arcane eligibility bypaths of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Betty worked closely during this time with many of the most prominent Sooner coaches and players. She was in constant contact with Port Robertson, the academic counselor to Sooner athletes, and was proud that this legendary behind-the-scenes figure referred to her as ""his coach."" The Clarks attended OU games as long as health permitted and often followed OU teams to football bowl games, and postseason tournaments in basketball and gymnastics. After her own retirement, Betty became a very dedicated volunteer at Norman Regional Hospital and in most weeks would spend one day in the gift shop and another in the surgery waiting room.

She maintained this commitment, which ultimately covered 6500 hours over more than 18 years, until the week before her final illness. Because of her long dedication to the hospital and the many, many friends she made among its staff and volunteers, the family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made the hospital's foundation. Betty Clark was an only child of an only child and her immediate family was small in number. However, her enthusiasm for life and spirit, which seemed to only grow more joyful as she aged, made her the leader of an unofficial family which was quite large and constantly increased frequently by one within minutes after making a new acquaintance. The numbers of those who considered Betty a second mother or sought her out for advice, consolation, or just to have fun are huge and, like her family, regard her presence in their lives as one of their greatest blessings.

The family will have a graveside service at 9:30 a.m. at Norman I.O.O.F. Cemetery on Wednesday, December 10, 2008. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, December 10, 2008, at First Presbyterian Church in Norman.