Forest and Scott County mourn the passing of Alderman Bo Clark

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

James Calvin “Bo” Clark was a staple resident and gifted leader in the City of Forest from 1981 when he was elected Alderman of Ward 1, until his death on May 28. At his memorial service held on June 2 at Forest Elementary School Auditorium it was said that “the world from time-to-time is graced by the presence of individuals whose accomplishments were so immense, whose influences were so vast and whose selfless acts or service to their fellowmen and communities were so complete that they can only be called giants.” This explanation is spot on when speaking of Clark, and the City of Forest will greatly miss his humble leadership.

Clark passed away peacefully  at the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Jackson from natural causes. Clark always took great pride in his family and his hometown, and was a devoted family man and husband to his wife of 56 years Pearl Moore Clark who preceeded him in death.

Clark’s name resonates in Forest, throughout Scott County, and around Mississippi. Alderman, veteran, teacher, coach, athletic director and more importantly a friend that never met a stranger. City of Forest Mayor Nancy Chambers said Clark was a great man that was well-spoken, had a servant’s heart, always had a smile on his face and never met a stranger.

“When we traveled to represent Forest at events for the Mississippi Municipal League and you told someone you were from Forest the very first question from everyone was ‘do you know Bo and Pearl Clark,” Chambers said. “I once said if you knew Bo you would have a seat at the head table no matter where we were at. He was a wonderful representative of our city no matter where we traveled.”

Clark graduated from Scott County Training School in 1950 where he was a standout athlete in multiple sports. After graduation he joined the U.S. Air Force where he served four years. After his military service Clark returned to Mississippi and enrolled at Alcorn State University where he played football and baseball. After earning his college degrees he returned to Forest as head football coach at E.T. Hawkins High School. When the local high schools integrated Clark became the first ever Forest High School Athletic Director and remained on staff at FHS until 1991. He could always be found around the schools even after his retirement.

In December of 1981 Clark became a public servant when he was elected to the position of City of Forest Alderman Ward 1. He continued to serve in that capacity, as well as Mayor Pro-Tempore, until his death last week.

Attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey remembers Clark as a leader, friend and mentor for her and many others in the community. She said, “During a 2015 interview with Bo and Pearl Clark at the Legacy Office, they recalled their experiences with my parents as their mentors. Bo followed Daddy (W. L. Slaughter) as Forest Alderman Ward 1 and as Hawkins High School coach. Daddy initiated Bo into the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Pearl and Mama (Olivia Kelley Slaughter) were close as church members and good friends.  Pearl’s first teaching experience was teaching at North Scott where Daddy was principal.”

Mayor Chambers said that Clark had a tremendously caring heart and cared for all people. “Bo was a true gentleman and a true caring and gentle person,” she said. “He had a true servant’s heart and loved the kids he taught and coached and the people of Forest. He will always be remembered for the man he was.”

Slaughter said that Clark will be greatly missed and that his legacy will always live on in everyone that knew him. “Bo loved and was dedicated to the people of Forest and to the students in the Forest Municipal School District,” she said. “As we all know, he loved purple and gold and continued the Alcorn tradition left by the late E. T. Hawkins and A. L. and Odessa Graves. His life and legacy will live on in Forest, Alcorn State University and in the hearts of those who loved him.”