Thomas William was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland on Monday, April 16, 1928. He was welcomed by his parents, George and Olivia (Turkington) Clarke, and older brothers Norman and George. The Clarke family operated a mixed farm, and in time Tom welcomed younger siblings Albert, Eva, and Margaret. He attended elementary school in Moira, County Down, completing the required six years of formal education.
Following a few early jobs, Tom became a police officer with The Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland. It was during this time period, that Tom was introduced to one of his sister Margaret’s friends, a young woman by the name of Margaret Jane Gamble. The youngsters quickly fell for one another and were wed on Thursday, April 30, 1953, in the Church of Ireland, Derriaghy. Why a Thursday you might ask? Well, in that era, May was an unlucky month, and therefore avoided, thus the urgency to be wed before flipping over the calendar page.
The world was a very different place back then and opportunities were limited, so Tom and Margaret decided to immigrate to Canada. The move was extremely difficult for both of them, as they left all their family behind. However, their strong love for one another helped them through their transition. The newlyweds settled in Toronto where Tom found work with Eaton’s. A couple of years later Tom jumped at the opportunity to drive a streetcar for the City of Toronto and remained in that position for the next three years. It was during this time, February 25, 1957, to be exact, whereby Tom and Margaret welcomed their first son, Greg. The young family worked hard and abided by a tight budget, which allowed them to amass some savings. In 1958, the Clarkes returned to Ireland, calling it home once again, when they bought a 40-acre parcel of land in Crevvy, County Down. The price tag? $5,000… crazy! The Clarke family continued to grow with the arrivals of Jeff (1959) and Paul (1961). Tom worked hard to provide for his young family, making the best of every opportunity.
Tom lived by the motto, “buy low, sell high” and was lucky enough to often prosper with this mentality. He also liked a challenge, so when things became stagnant, he was often looking for a change. He got that itch again in 1964, when the family of five returned to Canada, this time for good! The Clarkes bought a home in Scarborough but by the late 1960’s transitioned to a farm property near Mansfield. A few years later, Tom, Margaret and the boys moved north to Harriston where Tom milked cows. His famous last words were “This will be the last one…” but it wasn’t! 🙂 In the years following there was a stop in Mildmay, before settling in the Chesley area in the late 80’s. It was here that Tom got into raising horses, as well as buying and selling cattle. Retirement was always a running joke with Tom and his family as I am told he successfully “retired” several times!
When not busy on the land or with his livestock, Tom, along with Margaret, enjoyed travelling. When the boys were younger, the Clarkes often enjoyed camping as a family. In time, Tom and Margaret bought an RV, and they never looked back. Remembering the adage”buy low, sell high” Tom and Margaret owned several Rv’s through the years and experienced much of North America. Ocala, Florida was a favourite though, as they enjoyed several winters there. Thankfully, the many stories of this travel and their adventures have been passed down to family and friends alike. In more recent years, a great deal of time was spent at Bluewater Camp in Wiarton.
Tom loved his family dearly and was always there to lend a helping hand when needed. He was delighted to become a grandfather and treasured this title and responsibility. Great-grandchildren were the icing on the cake, as he and Margaret loved every opportunity to spend time with the little ones. “Popa” will forever be a staple in all of their lives. When time allowed for it, Tom enjoyed relaxing and taking in the most recent episode of Judge Judy. He and Margaret also liked to listen to the Gaithers and could often be found reading from his Bible, nightly, before bed. This strong faith was ever present and helped put him at ease, even with his declining health in recent months.
Thomas passed away at Grey Bruce Health Services, Owen Sound, with his loving family at his side, on Thursday, April 20, 2023, in his 96th year.
Beloved husband of Margaret (Gamble). Loving father of Greg (Jacqueline) of Edmonton. Cherished Popa of Justin, William, Nelly, Kaitlyn, James, Jonathan, Barry (Lorna), Sara (Steve), Nicole (Scott), Krysta (Dan), and Jeff and great-grandfather of Gabriel, Rosie, Owen, Abby, Aubrey, Jack, and Lincoln. Thomas was predeceased by his sons Jeff and Paul, brothers Norman, George Jr., and Albert, sisters Eva Begley, and Margaret Savage, and his parents George Sr. and Olivia (Turkington) Clarke.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, from 1 p.m. until the time of the funeral service at 2 p.m. Interment in Chesley Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Hope Community Church would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.