Gordon Clark (1913-2009)


Regret to announce the death of Gordon Clark.

Gordon joined the School straight after his demob from the RAF. He taught French and Latin and became a Deputy Head. The details of the funeral are as follows
Friday 25th. September at 2.30p.m at the Oakley Wood Crematorium North Chapel, CV33 9QP
No flowers by request. Collection for Alzheimer’s Society at end of service.
The Crematorium is situated adjacent to the B4100 Warwick – Banbury Rd. on the B4087 Wellesbourne Rd. It is close to Junction 13 on the M40 but it is only possible to leave at Junction 13 if you are travelling North. If you are travelling South it is only possible to leave at Junction 14 Full details can be found on the Crematorium Website.

If you are unable to attend and wish to pay a donation or send a message of condolence I shall be attending and will willingly pass them on. In view of the Postal chaos please send your messages via email. Also if you wish to contribute let me know and I will pay them on your behalf “pro tem”. Contact me at george.ives@btinternet.com.

George Ives

HOLLOWAY SCHOOL (1947 - 1978)

The Club was represented at Gordon Clarke’s funeral by the Chairman, the Secretary, Alf Mortimer and Reg Pritchett, who were joined by Brian Fletcher, a former Deputy Head at the School and a close colleague of Gordon.  The service in 2009 was conducted by Gordon’s son-in-law who, in his address, called upon the many tributes received from former pupils.  These were greatly appreciated by the family who were genuinely touched by the strength of the affection and respect they conveyed.  The reception was held in the ‘Dirty Duck’ in Stratford, a favourite watering hole of Gordon’s and adjoining a cottage he once occupied.  A very fitting farewell to a true gentleman and a never to be forgotten teacher and friend.  A tribute to Gordon, prepared by Brian Fletcher, has been circulated (see below), which also draws upon the reminiscences from Old Camdenians



I first met Gordon Clarke in September 1964, when I joined Holloway School as a teacher of mathematics to cover the absence through illness of Don Mansfield. I did not know at the time that my position would become permanent or that Gordon and I would develop an enduring friendship that would withstand many changes in the school’s character and personnel.

At first, I was in awe of this commanding and authoritative figure who strode the corridors of the Old Building with purpose and certainty. It was quite a long time before I was brave enough to call him Gordon and for a while I referred to him respectfully as Mr Clarke. But even when I dared to call him Gordon he retained my respect, for as a young teacher finding his way in a new London comprehensive school, he was a model for all that that was noble and dignified in the profession. As one of our friends and colleagues of the early seventies has written: ‘ He was strong, intelligent, funny and extremely principled - a great deputy head with enormous commitment to the School’.

Yes, Gordon rose through the ranks – eschewing bids for Headship because he felt he was too old – and for the final phase of his career was Deputy Head, serving with distinction and exceptional commitment. Heads came and went, but Gordon went on forever – the rock on which so many others depended, myself included. For my last three years at the school, Gordon and I were fellow deputy heads, but there was never any doubt about who was the senior! I incurred his wrath by leaving the School a year ahead of him because I had said I would stay until his retirement. But he forgave me and in his retirement years – all 31 of them – our friendship prospered and we met frequently in Stratford, a place he adored. It was his retreat from the hustle and bustle of London and there he pursued his love of theatre, walking, reading and bridge.

Gordon was a vigorous and energetic man, with an intellectually rigorous mind. He was always willing to embrace the new and this marked him out from his contemporaries. He relished a fresh challenge.

He managed to bypass all the major illnesses and remained healthy and wise, well into his nineties. He did suffer from a bad back from time to time and alarmed me more than once when I called on him in his study, only to find him hanging by his finger tips from the door frame or lying flat on his back to find relief from back spasms. But Gordon was unfailingly cheerful through it all and always believed in getting on with the job with minimum fuss. He was totally dependable and would never let you down. Countless students and colleagues over many years have good cause to be grateful for the durability of his friendship and the steadiness of his leadership.

As one Old Camdenian has written: ‘I know from my own experience that Gordon’s respect and care for his pupils extended past their school career and into adulthood. He is legend’

Another writes similarly: ‘He was always approachable and generous with his time and I remained in touch with him long after my school days.’

Yet another writes: ‘I believe I was the last Holloway boy he managed to coach through A level Latin and in my 42 years in newspapers, scarcely a day went by when I wasn’t reminded of the debt I owed to him for his kindness, patience and encouragement as a teacher’.

Gordon enjoys our enduring respect and affection. We shall miss him and we are all the poorer for his passing. We shall never forget him.

Whatever he was doing - taking boys on walking and cycling holidays, stirring up Red House to greater endeavours on the sports field, teaching Latin or French and at the very end of his career, mathematics – he did it with commitment and dedication. He did not measure his service. His belief in the school was total and he supported it, through good and changing times, with an unerring sense of what was right for the place. He was the school’s loyal servant.

He was also my very good friend and a friend to my family.

I last saw him at the beginning of this year and I could see that he was entering a place where I could not follow and initially I felt very sad. But, as I reflected on our long friendship, I realised how fortunate I had been to know him for so long and to enjoy so may good times together at work and at leisure.

Gordon has had a long and distinguished life and as tributes from friends and colleagues and Old Camdenians have shown, he has given so much to so many.

His legacy will endure.

As Richard Knight said: Vale magister optime, pax tecum, in pace recquiescas.

Brian Fletcher
Holloway School (1964 - 1977)