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Death of a Legend

In remembrance of Gene Clark.

October 29, 2009
Joseph Sugarman

He started out as a bouncer, car mechanic and carpenter, but this popular Maui healer became one of this island’s real treasures.

Clark was born in Honolulu and moved to Kīhei in 1935 when he was 4 years old. Those were the fun times for Clark. His father was stationed on Maui, a sergeant major in charge of training, with his Chinese wife and his family of six—Gene, and his two older brothers and three older sisters.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Kīhei was a rural area with only about 25 homes and two very small general stores. Fearing a Japanese invasion of Maui, barbed wire skirted most of the island’s beaches while troops waited for an invasion that never came.

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Maui loses a talented, generous friend and beloved healer.

Clark was 16 years old in 1949 when he left Maui to train as a machinist in Honolulu. He also worked as a bouncer, and at 230 pounds with 22-inch biceps, nobody messed with him, Clark fondly remembered.

After completing his machinist training, he went back to Maui, where he became a carpenter, an electrician and a part-time healer. Like many healers, Clark never used the term to describe himself.

“My grandmother could ‘fix’ people up and she had that special knack for making people better,” remembered Clark. “It was just passed down from her.”

Clark had many close calls with death. Surviving two helicopter crashes and two major car wrecks, his life has been a cliffhanger from the very beginning. One time he actually lost a thumb, only to get it sewn back on in an emergency operation.

About three years ago, Clark lost his eyesight in a botched eye operation. Unable to see, he often stumbled—once hitting his head on the floor in his home in North Kīhei. A few weeks ago, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his throat, making it impossible for him to eat. Refusing to accept a feeding tube into his stomach, he insisted on going home.

Gene Clark was a dear friend of mine for the past 25 years. I sponsored many of his trips to Europe, the Mainland and many places in between. He was always there to help those who were sick or injured—and he always came through, bringing his “patients” back to full health. If you couldn’t pay—no problem. He worked for nothing. He was generous, kind, loving and had a talent that very few possess.

He is survived by his wife, seven children, 29 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.



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