Clark honored by AARP for his drive to survive

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON — Roger Clark Sr. admits he was struggling with life when he joined the Mount Washington Chapter of the AARP five years ago.

He had been told by his doctor that he would eventually need an electric wheelchair, was struggling with his weight and was continuing to cope with his wife’s death that occurred several years prior.

But Clark wasn’t the kind of person to sit around and wallow in his troubles. He still had great family support and encouragement from his children and, no matter how bleak life looked, Clark knew he could positively affect his community and those living in it.

The AARP gave Clark the outlet he needed to help turn his life around.

“The last 15 years have been rough, but the last five years have been beautiful,” Clark said of his AARP involvement.

Clark was recently selected as the AARP’s Kentucky Andrus Award recipient. He was recognized at a special banquet where AARP representatives as well as local government officials attended to celebrate Clark’s achievements.

The prestigious award is only given to one person in each state and is named after the organization’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus.

Clark was nominated by Mount Washington’s Carolyn Weakley, who attends First Baptist Church of Mount Washington and AARP meetings with Clark.

In her nomination, Weakley highlighted Clark’s work with the organization’s advocacy/legislature program, his leadership in the local chapter, his work with the Mount Washington Community Ministries program and his work to help advance the Mount Washington AARP chapter.

“Roger has done an awful lot of work for the AARP,” Weakley said. “He has made a lot of political trips to rallies and has lobbied for the AARP. He has done just all kinds of things and put in an unbelievable amount of hours.”

Clark said he was humbled by the award but didn’t feel like he deserved it.

“I am very privileged to stand here today and accept this award. I hope I can continue to live up to this award,” he said.

For a brief time, Clark was forced to move to Louisville because of medical reasons. He quickly became involved in the Okolona AARP chapter as president. Although he has since moved back to Mount Washington, he still serves as president and is assisting the Okolona chapter in its rebuilding phase.

Clark also serves as an AARP regional chapter specialist.

Karen Cassidy, AARP state president, said Clark’s work was essential to the organization’s mission of community service and advocating for America’s aging population.

“The work of the AARP across Kentucky would not be possible without volunteers like Roger. Roger is a tireless citizen’s advocate. He’s an inspiration to us all,” Cassidy said when addressing the crowd.

Mount Washington Mayor Joetta Calhoun honored Clark at the banquet by declaring Oct. 21 as Roger Clark Day for his contributions to the community.

Clark said he appreciated the accolades but didn’t feel he deserved them. He said he will continue to work with the Mount Washington AARP and to help those around him — because that is what he loves doing most.

“I’m not one of those people who like to set within the four walls and watch television all day like a lot of seniors.

“I have so much to be thankful for . . . I hope I’m only getting started,” he said.