Ann P. “Penny” Clarke, a resident of New Hampshire for more than 60 years, passed away peacefully in Peterborough on Jan. 2, 2021, less than two months before her 97th birthday.
Penny was a warm and loving spouse, mother, friend and companion. She also had a special place in her heart for pets, horses and living creatures of all kinds. She was married for 75 years to her beloved husband, William C. Clarke Jr., who passed away slightly more than a year ago. Penny leaves behind three sons and their wives, as well as a bountiful array of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Penny Clarke was born in Easton, Pa., and while still a young child moved with her family to the coastal town of Weekapaug, R.I. Her fondest memories of growing up involved the water, the waves and the ocean breezes that were a part of her everyday life in Weekapaug. As a young teenager attending school in nearby Westerly, she first met the man who would later become her husband.
In the fall of 1939, Penny enrolled at Smith College, where she studied botany and continued her relationship with Bill Clarke Jr., who was a student at Amherst College. They married just after Penny’s graduation in the spring of 1944, shortly before Bill, by then an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army, was deployed to France during World War II. While Bill was in the service overseas, Penny lived in New York City, where she was employed by the Pfizer Co. as part of the company’s team that was developing penicillin.
Reunited with her husband in 1946, Penny followed his early career in sales from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, until they arrived in Keene in 1957. Bill became a partner in the Douglas Company, makers of plush toys, and before long Penny had signed on to apply her formidable artistic skills and inspirations as the company’s designer. Thus began her decades-long, highly successful association with Douglas, which was never far from the center of the dynamics of the Clarke family. While working as the designer Penny raised her family of three boys. She and Bill created a remarkable and enduring professional partnership that lasted until Bill’s retirement in 1995; Penny continued as an executive vice president and advisor to Douglas for some years after that, working with her son, Scott, who succeeded his father as company president.
Penny welcomed and warmly embraced her sons’ spouses, and the next generation of grandchildren, who called her “Nana.” She was also a devoted horse owner and rider. Over time she kept several horses on the land adjacent to her home. They were her pride and joy, and a source of ongoing delight. She gave time to her community, as well, supporting the work of Miracles in Motion, and serving for many years on the board of the Cheshire Hospital. She and her husband continued to live at their Blossom Street home until they reached their early 90s, taking pride, as they had throughout their lives, in their self-reliance.
Ann P. Clarke is survived by her three sons and their spouses: William C. Clarke III and Bonnie S. Clarke, of Monkton, Md.; Christopher S. Clarke and Victoria B. Clarke, of Rochester, N.Y.; and Scott T. Clarke and Christine A. Clarke, of Keene.
In accordance with the family’s wishes, there will be no calling hours and no public memorial service. Memorial contributions to any charity are welcomed, as are the good wishes of those who may once have known or worked with Penny. Her family is thankful for her deep and abiding faith, her warmth as a person, her sharp artistic eye and her keen appreciation for the good in all of her fellow human beings.