She’s My Great Grandma: The Story of Barbara Clark

Barbara Clark and her grand daughter, Michelle Roberts, enjoying each others company at a church picnic

Mya Roberts, Reporter

Barbara Alfreda Clark is 94 years old, and she is my great grandma. Here is her story.

Barbara was born on April 17, 1928, as the youngest out of four. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where she lived on a 180 acre citrus farm. 

“And dad, my dad, and different guys that worked for him took care of [the farm],” Clark said. “So we helped our mother.”

Clark and her sisters had many chores to do around the house that the sisters cycled through, including keeping their rooms cleaned, the laundry, cleaning the house and many others.

“And every Sunday, two of us would help her with the laundry,” Clark said. “Because it was the old kind of washer.”

Clark and her family did many activities together that are sometimes rare in modern families. They would worship and sing, and many in the family could play instruments resulting in family music sessions.

“We always had dinner together,” Clark said. “Every night.”

Clark and her older sisters went to a private Seventh Day Adventist church school their entire school career. It was all they had ever known.

“Yeah, it was small and there were four [grades] in a room,” Clark said. “One through four, four through eight and then you graduated eighth grade and then went to four years of high school.”

Clark’s school was very small, only containing a few students in each classroom and nobody really had a lot of money.

“There were seven of us in my graduating class from high school.” Clark said.

Growing up, Clark didn’t know what she wanted to be when she was older, but at the age of 13, Clark started doing her neighbor’s and sister’s hair, and fell in love. She owned her very first salon at the young age of 20.

“And then went off to get married when I was 23 and went to the service with him,” Clark said. “When we got out after 13 years, I bought another salon.”

Clark only owned her salons for about 5 years, but due to high demand at the time the money came rolling in.

“It was, you know, a busier time of the world. I made a lot of money,” Clark said.

After owning her own business, Clark went back to school and got her teaching degree to teach hairdressing, but for supporting her three kids at the time it wasn’t enough.

“So then I was a waitress a lot and I really liked that,” Clark said.  “And I got a license to be a nurse aide working in nursing homes.”

During Clarks first marriage she had three children named Charlie, Margo and Sage. The youngest of the three was sage, and she was born in an interesting circumstance. Clark and her husband were in North Carolina at the time with the air force and were only a few miles away from the hospital when they got stuck behind an Army Convoy.

“It’s against the law to pass them so we couldn’t do anything,” Clark said. “We pulled up to the hospital and he said, ‘ ‘well, here we are,’ and I lifted the baby and said, ‘well, here she is.’ Oh, what an experience.”

Clark’s first marriage, which resulted in her first three children, was a very toxic relationship.

“Well, my first husband was an abuser and so that was sort of like a living hell,” Clark said.

  It was the dead of winter in Michigan when Clark took her children and left. It was cold, and there was snow on the ground. When her husband left for work she put miles between them.

“I stayed married to him for 17 years, until it got to where he probably would have killed us, all of us, my three kids and myself if I hadn’t got out,” Clark said.

Later, Clark divorced her husband and she began to move on with her life.

“ I divorced, and later got married. And then I had Francine when I was 42,” Clark said.

Clarks family has grown very large in the years since she had her last child. She has 12 grandkids, 16 great grandchildren, and four great great grandchildren.

“Seeing as how I’m 94, and I had my first child and got it all started when I was 25,” Clark said. “I just kept growing from there.”

Clark has lived through many major world events including The Great Depression, the civil rights movement and Kennedy assasination, 9/11, and the most recent: COVID-19. She went two years without ever getting the virus, and just got it for the first time a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, just like a month ago in September,” Clark said. “God is good.”

Religion is a very large part of Clarks life and she is very grateful for growing up the way she did. She is a third generation Seventh Day Adventist.

“I praise God, you know, there were a lot of times that I probably should not have lived, but he had something in mind for me,” Clark said.

She believes that everyone has a purpose, and until we figure what that is, we just have to live our life and be in the moment. Clark still doesn’t know what her purpose is, but she believes that she is in the right place.

“He sent me here. This is the place that I should be, and I’m so glad for that,” Clark said.

Clark has lived an incredible life. She has lived through so many events and done more things than most people do in their lifetime. She thinks that her life has been great, and she has been going with the flow of life even throughout the many changes in the world.

“It just happens, you know, day by day, year by year things just happen. It’s like growing up. You don’t realize it, two years ago you were 14 and how different it is. You just go,” Clark said.