James Clark, III

Obituary of James W. Clark, III

Jim, Jimmy, Grumpy, Capt. Jim Sparrow passed away at home surrounded by family on January 16th at 2:22 p.m. after a hard-fought, 4-month battle with Gastric/Pancreatic Cancer.  Jim won a previous battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer 48 years ago.  


Jim was born to an Irish pa and Italian ma, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander James William Clark Jr. and Nancy Vassallo at the Naval Base in Charleston, SC with deep family roots in Boston, MA.  He had a younger brother, Bill, William Robert Clark. 

Jim is survived by his wife Beth (D. Elizabeth Gorham), his two children Mary Beth Grimberg (Mary Elizabeth Clark) and James William Clark IV (Jamie); their spouses U.S. Space Force Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Grimberg Jr. and Lauren Clark (Lauren Marie Steele); and his six grandchildren from oldest to youngest: Heidi Renee Clark, William Michael Grimberg (Will), James William Clark V (Cinco), Evelyn Elizabeth Grimberg (Evie), Mallory Marie Clark, and Axel John Clark. 


 Jim was preceded in death by his father (1973), his brother Bill (2015), and his mother-in-law Gwen Gorham (2020). 

 Jim is additionally survived by his mother Nancy Edington married to Retired U.S. Navy Captain Donald E. Edington, his sister-in-law Sally H. Clark, nephews David William Clark (Dave) married to Kristin Jerome and their son Billy; Christopher Robert Clark (Toph) engaged to Sofia Pompeo; his father-in-law Eugene Boswell Gorham Jr. (Bos), his brother-in-law Eugene Boswell Gorham III (Bo) and wife Robin, niece Dr. Laura (Gorham) Fischer, her husband Kyle and their daughter Lilly; and extended family and friends throughout the U.S. 


Jim never knew a stranger, loved to talk, loved to entertain and be the center of attention especially at environmental tradeshows, loved coaching, loved attending grandkid events, loved to fish, loved to tinker on the boat, loved telling dad jokes, loved being a pirate whenever given the chance especially at Halloween, and loved helping Santa at Christmas.  But most of all, Jim loved his family.  Having beaten cancer early in life, Jim lived the philosophy of enjoy each day as if it were your last, and to have no regrets. 

Jim grew up a Navy brat living in Charleston, SC; Great Lakes, IL; Groton, CT; and Norfolk, VA.  He graduated Norfolk Catholic High School in 1970, lettering in swimming, football, and track.  In 1975, Jim graduated from Old Dominion University (ODU) with a Bachelor of Science in Education.  Jim is still ODU’s only male All-American Swimmer.  He set ODU individual and relay records, career and season points scored records, was selected MVP twice, and Team Captain twice.  In 1984, Jim was inducted into the ODU Sports Hall-of-Fame.  He is a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. 


 Jim and Beth married in 1980, as did his brother Bill to Sally, and his mother Nancy to Don.  Jim taught at Norfolk Catholic High School and coached football, volleyball, and golf; then became Cradock High School’s head football coach and voted Teacher of the Year.  Living in the Virginia Beach area, Jim got hooked on offshore fishing with his boat the “Foolish Pleasure”. 

 In 1982, Jim entered the environmental field as rules and regulations were being developed.  He became a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager – CHMM in 1986 (#963) and participated in the cleanup of industrial facilities, military bases, and Superfund Sites. 

 In 1989, Jim, Beth and their two young children moved to Brandon, FL in the Tampa Bay area.  In 1991, Jim and Beth started Clark Environmental, Inc. in Mulberry, FL “Cleaning Earth One Ton at a Time”.  The business held numerous Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits handling non-hazardous and hazardous waste disposal, transportation, and remediation.  Jim was the idea guy with the RCRA waste knowledge and had the outgoing personality needed to market the business.  Jim and Beth successfully ran Clark Environmental for 31 years, selling in 2022 to EnviroServe.  


 For their contributions to the community, Jim and Beth were honored to receive “The Key” to the City of Mulberry, the Legacy Award from the Mulberry Chamber of Commerce, and an appreciation keepsake from ICAP - Industry Community Advisory Panel.  The business was repeatedly recognized as a Best Places to Work by Polk County including an Employer of Distinction, a Company of Excellence by Polk County Commissioners, received the Economic Development Award from CFDC, Recycle Florida’s Waste Reduction Award and other Environmental Sustainability awards. 

 Although Jim had a successful and positive impact on Florida’s environment, his focus, his pride and joy were always his two children, Mary Beth and Jamie.  Jim coached them in softball and baseball until they graduated high school; and he was the loudest supporter at all their activities from soccer to band to cheerleading to school plays.  Jim’s passion for fishing continued with flats fishing in Tampa Bay.  He joined South Shore Anglers where fishing conservation and philanthropic fundraising (including cancer research) went hand-in-hand. 


 In 2009, the second wave of Jim’s pride and joy entered his life with his grandchildren.  As his six grandchildren grew and began participating in sports, gymnastics, cheerleading and music; Jim known as Grumpy (Dumpy, Bumpy) was often seen on the sidelines cheering them on. 

Jim and Beth were married for 43 years and business partners for 31 years.  They retired in 2022 to live full time on Manasota Key at Pirate’s Cove just as Hurricane Ian descended on their home.  They lived in an RV on-site during the rebuild; and as they were finally moving into their retirement home, Jim was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Jim and Beth literally could not have been closer in the last year of his life, and Jim wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  Beth knows, Jim will always be her greatest adventure. 


 If you would like to honor Jim’s life in some way, Jim’s wish was for donations to be made to the V Foundation, Victory Over Cancer where 100% of direct donations go towards research.  Jim learned first-hand the tremendous strides Cancer Research has made since his first battle with cancer and it would honor him to be a part of any new advances. 

 A Zoom Celebration of Life will be held on February 11th at 4:00 p.m.  https://events.zoom.us/ej/Asc3obuF6HbxQFLWzvhXSnGjEixelf2l6Ly2PfLMwLSg670LWrlw~AxJJ71Ny9_DCqGE6-svRNumBOZmxakWS8-DlcpfRU0if_yTQHC-YlTwtAL4Ig 

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