Virgil Clarkson Remembrance and Memorial Service
January 7 at 11:00am
1st United Methodist Church
1224 Legion Way SE
All are welcome
We’ve lost a great one. Virgil Clarkson died at his home in Lacey on November 13, 2022. He leaves behind his wife and fellow community leader, Barbara Clarkson, as well as his children and family. Virgil was a true gentleman and champion of many community causes. He overcame the harsh obstacles of racism and childhood poverty to achieve the highest level of community leadership and our utmost respect.
The news of his passing runs like fire through our hearts and organization. We only recently hosted a special celebration for his 90th birthday, where a room full of admirers gathered to honor him once again. In 2005 we honored him with a “Living Legend” award for his remarkable work for seniors. His accomplishments are too many to mention, and this is not an obituary but merely a somber remembrance. Those with deep roots in our community will know that Virgil not only served on the Lacey Council and as Mayor over a 19-year span, but went beyond to mentor and guide our community to better places. Virgil served on many Boards, service clubs and helped countless organizations. We also honor his years of service to our very own Senior Services for South Sound Board of Directors. We’ve lost a friend.
Even in his later years, Virgil had a remarkable ability to listen well, say little, and then summarize the whole meeting with a few insightful words. Seniors throughout Thurston County owe Virgil a debt of gratitude for how he labored to make senior lives better.
Executive Director Brian Windrope knew Virgil only in his later years, since joining the organization in 2020, and offered this remembrance:
“Upon first meeting Virgil you could tell he was a giant among people. Even hunched and slowed, he had an immense power about him. When I was welcomed into his home for a conversation, he was all about supporting me in my new role and gracious in his advice. How many of us can say we accomplished what Virgil did for our communities? How many did as much with such obstacles? Virgil is an enduring model of resilience, service and leadership. We would all do well to emulate him.”
Our Board member and recent Board Chair, Rhodetta Seward, worked alongside Virgil for decades in public service and had this to say about her friend:
"Thank you, Virgil, for your many years of community service, and your continued support for our seniors. We would not have the Virgil Clarkson Lacey Senior Center, formerly known as the Lacey Senior Center, if not for his hard work, vision, dedication, and tenacity. He continued serving our seniors as a Board Member for Senior Services for South Sound, giving his time, knowledge, and support whenever and wherever he could. As I and others continue to walk through the doors in Lacey, he will always be remembered as this tall, gentle, gracious, caring soul with his beautiful smile and twinkle in his eyes.
“Thank you, Virgil, for sharing your life for years upon years to make the Thurston Community richer for those of us who live here, and for those yet to come. You sacrificed and gave of yourself to ensure our sustainability; you shared your heritage; you shared your wisdom. You are one of a kind — a very special selfless man, caring always about others, mentoring many, and a friend to all.
“I am proud to have called you my friend, to have worked with you in several capacities, and I and Senior Services for South Sound will truly miss you as will this entire community and beyond. Knowing you, you're probably at work in that next life doing great things! Until we meet again . . . "
Fellow Board Member and current Board Chair John Ficker, who also shared decades of personal experience with Virgil, had this to say:
“I was fortunate enough to know Virgil through our work together at the Washington State Senior Citizen Lobby and our service together on the Senior Services for South Sound Board of Directors. As a long time resident of Lacey, I admired Virgil well before I met him. His influence not only improved our city and community, but inspired me (and many others) to be of service. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from his example and hope to continue in his spirit of volunteerism and giving. He and his family are on our minds and in our hearts.”
Our gratitude and best wishes go to Virgil Clarkson for all he was and all he did. Please join us in honoring his memory by acting as he did to be of service to our community in whatever ways you can, whenever you can.