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Middletown High founding coach Barry Clark loses cancer battle

Barry Clark, who launched the wrestling program at Middletown High School in Rhode Island more than 40 years ago, died Thursday, Dec. 20 after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.

Barry Clark
Clark, a 1963 graduate of Middletown High -- the school's first graduating class -- returned to his alma mater in 1969 to teach and coach. He turned the school's existing wrestling club into a varsity sports program effective for the 1971-72 school year.

In his 33 years as wrestling coach at Middletown, Clark guided the Islanders to a 305-102-5 overall record, with his teams earning four runner-up finishes at the Rhode Island state wrestling championships. Clark's teams could claim 15 individual state titles, 22 All-State wrestlers, and six New England championships placewinners.

For these accomplishments, Barry Clark was named Rhode Island Coach of the Year in 1980, and was inducted into the Rhode Island Wrestling Hall of Fame as well as the Middletown High School Athletics Hall of Fame.

In addition to building the Middletown wrestling program from the ground up, Clark was involved in a number of sports at Middletown, coaching football, track and golf.

Barry W. Clark was born on Feb. 17, 1946 to Wilbur and Dorothy Clark. He played football at Middletown High, then headed west to Northwest Missouri State University, a four-year public school in Maryville, where he played football and wrestled. Clark later earned a Masters in Science from University of Rhode Island.

In addition to his teaching and coaching career, Clark served in the reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps. Activated in 1991 for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he was summoned to work at the Pentagon, according to his obituary. Clark's Marine heritage was on display long after he retired in 1995 with the rank of Lt. Col., employing Marine ideals in his coaching, and signing all emails with the Marine motto "Semper Fi"

Clark retired from teaching and coaching in 1997.

Barry Clark is survived by his wife of 48 years, Mary (Landers) Clark; two daughters -- Lisa (Jim) O'Brien and Megan (Michael) Tyson -- and one son, David (Kendra) Clark, along with five grandchildren.

Services for Barry W. Clark have been announced. Visitation will take place Thursday, Dec. 27 from 4-8 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, R.I. The funeral will be held Friday, Dec. 28 with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. in St. Lucy's Church, 909 West Main Road, Middletown. Burial with military honors will follow at St. Columba Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Middletown Youth Wrestling, c/o Coach Bill Seiple, 27 White Terr. Middletown, RI 02842.

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