Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2023

John Gary "Corky" Clark

AHS Class of 1962

Corky Clark, local real estate broker and appraiser, has distinguished himself with his considerable and continuing dedication to service in the Arcola community. John Gary “Corky” Clark, son of John H. and Garnette Mannon Clark, was born at home in Arcola on April 20, 1944. He was welcomed by his sister Kay, and later joined by his brother Roger.

In grade school, Corky and his teammates excelled in athletics. He was a starter on both the lightweight (7th grade) and heavyweight (8th grade) basketball teams that placed third and fourth in state tournaments. In eighth grade, Corky ran with the Arcola Grade School heavyweight 400-yard relay shuttle team, setting a state record in the 1958 state track meet at University of Illinois Memorial Stadium.

During his years at Arcola High School, Corky continued his focus on athletics as a four-year member of the football, basketball and track teams. In his junior year, Corky advanced to the state track meet at Memorial Stadium, where he placed 12th in the mile run, setting the Arcola High School record for the mile at 4:38.4. He was a member of both the Lettermen’s Club and Pep Club, and was also involved in JETS, Library Club, Torch staff, Industrial Arts Club and class plays.

Following his 1962 high school graduation, Corky enrolled at Eastern Illinois University, where he pledged Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity. Early in his senior year, he and Billiejean Arthur were married at Arcola First Christian Church on September 4, 1965. After completing his B.S. in Business Management at EIU in 1966, Corky became a U.S. postal employee and then management trainee at Johnston IGA in Arcola, before settling into his work with Carnation Company as a sales representative.

Corky furthered his education at Lake Land College in 1978, where he earned his license as a real estate broker. He joined Otto Real Estate that same year and became state-certified as a real estate appraiser several years later. Corky ventured out on his own with Clark Real Estate & Appraisals in 1995 and completed his forty-fifth year in real estate sales in 2023. He is a longtime member of East Central Illinois Area Association of Realtors, serving as president in 1986.

As a young man, Corky became an active member of the Arcola Lions Club, participated in the entertaining annual variety shows and served as the club’s 1971-1972 president. With the birth of each of Corky and Billiejean’s four sons, Bryan (1967), Mark (1970), Bradley (1975) and John Matthew (1981), Corky soon found additional activities to support in the Arcola community. He coached each of their boys’ tee-ball and Little League baseball teams. Corky led their sons’ Arcola Wildcats 4-H Club for eleven years and also served as longtime member and president of Arcola Sports Boosters. He was elected to a four-year term on the Arcola School Board in 1983 and stepped up again later when appointed to fill vacancies on the board. As a worker on the football chain gang, Corky enjoyed the best seat at Arcola’s home games for twenty-five years.

Corky worked as an Arcola volunteer firefighter and then later served as trustee with Arcola Fire Protection District from 2000-2018. He was Fire Protection District president for ten years, and served in that capacity at the time the new west side fire station was completed in 2013. Corky has served on the TIF Advisory Committee since 2011 and has been Arcola Township Supervisor since 2009.

From pressing cider at the first Arcola Broom Corn Festival in 1971, to working at the First Christian Church food stand in 2023, Corky has been a willing volunteer for each of our annual festivals. He ran his first of many Broom Corn Festival 10K road races in 1978, served as race director in 1988 and continued to help with the race for many years.

Additionally, Corky is a fifty-eight year member of the Arcola First Christian Church, where he has served as deacon and elder. More recently, he has become a member of Arcola Masonic Lodge #366. In further support of our community, Corky and Billiejean are lifetime members of Arcola Foundation. Corky enjoys his golf game and has also served on the Kaskaskia Country Club board of directors.

Corky continues to be a dedicated servant in his home town as he nears his eightieth birthday. Billiejean has been his steadfast support as he served the Arcola community for so many years. The fun-loving couple has worked together the past fifty-eight years in their effort to make Arcola a better place to call their home. Both Billiejean and Corky were honored as 2021 Arcola Broom Corn Festival grand marshals in recognition of their decades of committed work in the Arcola community. They have been blessed with four sons, their daughters-in-law, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, who all continue to provide great joy in their busy lives.

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Last Revision September 25, 2023