Page 45 - FSJ June 2012

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AFSA
NEWS
J UN E 2 0 1 2 / F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L
45
American Foreign Service Association • June 2012
A
FSA’s annual Memorial Plaque
Ceremony is an opportunity to
celebrate and recognize Foreign
Serviceemployeeswhohavegiventheir lives
in service to theUnited States. Held in the
C Street lobby, it is AFSA’s official Foreign
Affairs Day event each year.
OnMay 4, SharonS. Clark’s namewas
addedtoAFSA’sMemorialPlaques. Sharon
died of cerebral malaria on Dec. 26, 2010,
while assigned to the U.S. embassy’s
regional security office in Abuja.
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence
McCulley, speaking for all at the U.S. mis-
sion, said recently that Sharon’s death was
a blow to the entire American communi-
ty: “She worked in the Regional Security
Office,perhaps thebusiest sectionof themis-
sion,” McCulley said. “But she was never
too busy to offer a friendly word to a co-
worker or a discreet bit of advice to her
younger colleagues, or pitch in and con-
tribute to theworkof another sectionwhen
leaveor senior visits pulled folks away from
the office.”
Opening the Plaque Ceremony, AFSA
President SusanJohnsonsaid, “To the fam-
ilies and friends gatheredhere, I expressour
deepest sympathy for your loss and grati-
tude for Sharon’s service. Sadly, her trag-
icdeathhascut shortwhat couldhavebeen.”
Johnson went on to read President
BarackObama’smessage commending the
workof ForeignServiceprofessionals from
all foreign affairs agencies. By etching
Sharon’s name into theMemorial Plaques,
Pres. Obama said, we are “commemorat-
ingher legacyandthe legacyof allwhomade
the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of creating
a better world.”
Under Secretary of State for Civilian
Security, Democracy and Human Rights
Maria Otero spoke next. “Sharon was a
cherished member of the Embassy Abuja
family. In addition to her role as an adop-
tivegrandmother to localNigerianchildren,
Sharon opened her heart and home to
members of the embassy community,”
Under SecretaryOtero said. “I hope you’ll
indulgeme inreadinganote I receivedfrom
Corporal Thomas ‘Fish’ Fischetti, who
served with Sharon in
Abuja, and who is now in
La Paz.
‘One of my favorite
memories was when
Sharon threwme a surprise
birthday dinner for my
21st birthday. Ihadno idea
whatwas goingon; nor did
I expect anything. She
invitedall theMarines over
and made my favorite
foods, includinghomemade icecream.
It’s a memory I will always treasure.
From then on the Marines and I got
randome-mails fromher, inviting us
to ‘Sunday dinner at Mom’s,’ and all
theMarines just calledher ‘Mom.’ She
was one of the kindest andmost gen-
uine people I have known. I amglad
I had the privilege of getting to know
her.’”
Sharon was born in Indiana on
May 17, 1953. ShemarriedTimothy
V. Clark in 1973, and together they
raised a family of three children:
Michelle,DavidandMelissa. Once the
childrenweregrown, Sharonpursuedagov-
ernment career,whichultimately ledher to
the Foreign Service. InFebruary 2008, she
was sworn in as an Office Management
Specialist and assigned to Abuja. Her col-
leagues remember her as a “consummate
professional.”
“My mother had a love of nature and
the outdoors and would always encour-
age us to do things outside. She was an
eternal optimist and kept an infectious
Continued on page 49
Memorial Plaque Ceremony Honors Sharon S. Clark
BY PAUL J. CARTER, AFSA STAFF
(Top) Familyand friendsof SharonS. Clark stand for thePledge
of Allegiance, openingAFSA’sMemorial Plaque Ceremony on
May4. (Bottom) AU.S.Marine lays AFSA’smemorial wreath,
as AFSA President Susan Johnson looks on.