A life of Fayth
By Amber McIver-Traywick
This month Berthoud resident Fayth Clark will surpass (by two years) a milestone a mere .0173% of the U.S. population will ever reach when on Aug. 11 she turns 102.
Clark was born in Chicago in 1917 – for context, that was the year Albert Einstein published his first paper on cosmology, radio and cars were in their infancy, Houdini performed his buried-alive escape, Woodrow Wilson was president, the Russian Revolution began, and the U.S. joined the allied forces fighting WWI.
Much has changed over the last 102 years in the world at large and for Clark, who now resides at Apple Leaf Assisted Living in Berthoud, but despite all that change she seems to take everything in stride with an infectious amount of optimism, humor and wisdom. “I take the upper road; why take the lower road when you can’t do a whole lot, but don’t wallow, do the best you can and look up – I think things are more good than they are bad…always look for the best and invite your friends to look up too.”
Growing up Clark said she had an ideal childhood in the suburbs. Her father worked in Chicago as a print-press operator, many nights growing up she recalled she and her three sisters would meet their father at the Aurora and Elgin train station since the family didn’t have their first car, a Ford Model T, until she was 8. “We were allowed to sit up by a sign with certain letters,” she couldn’t remember what the letters said but she said they “must never go below those letters” – most likely a parental warning to not get run over by a train while waiting for dad, “luckily we all did it, but we were four girls – and that’s not like having a boy.”
Clark graduated high school in 1935 and attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago where she met her husband Herbert who she said, “made a thing” of always saying he was “Her Bert.” The two married in 1938 and began a life together pastoring several Baptist churches across multiple states from Illinois to Arizona. “My husband did the preaching and I did the playing. I played piano or the organ. We found music was a very good way to reach people,” Clark reminisced.
Fayth and Herbert had four children together, two boys and two girls; Jim, Dan, Sandy and Wendy, who also sang and helped their parents in the ministry, “not a rotten one in the bunch” she commented with a chuckle. Clark said although they didn’t live with much excess in life during those years of raising their family together that, “We were very happy.”
After Herbert passed away Clark moved to Berthoud in 1995 to be with her daughter Wendy and settled into the assisted living home a few years back.
She stays active with exercise classes, prayer group, and bible study, as well as enjoying one of her favorite games, “I do like to play Scrabble – I can’t get anybody here to play ‘cause I beat them all,” she said with a grin.
Music continues to be a part of her life as well, as she still sings and plays piano. “She is a rock star. She plays piano every night that I ever ask her to after dinner. I say you play the piano and you play it amazing with no written music – she’s always so humble,” said Clarissa Norris, a staff member at the facility. Clark is, however, quick to mention she only knows Christian music. “I can play church hymns really good – I don’t play dance music… I don’t dance; it’s like that saying, I don’t smoke…” though she struggled to remember the rest, it goes as follows, “…and I don’t chew and I don’t go with the girls that do.”
When asked what she saw as the most important thing she has learned in life Clark said, “First of all I’d say, as I have done, to walk hand in hand with Jesus. That’s the biggest thing to have a relationship with the Lord.” On facing the struggles in life Clark echoed a similar response, “Always walk with Jesus; no matter how low you get he’s always there and carries you along. He’s a wonderful friend.”
Some things are a bit hard for Clark to recall, but when one’s operating system is nearly 102 years old, packed with a lifetime of memories, that is more than understandable. What she does express with perfect clarity is being grateful for the life she’s led. “I’m a very happy person. The Lord has been good to me. I’m just thankful I have good kids and they’ve raised good children. I have good people around me and you know, that’s pretty nice.”
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