Dr. Geoffrey Clark remembered for supporting community health
Jan. 31 — To the Editor:
The board, staff and patients of Families First Health and Support Center have lost a cherished advocate, benefactor and friend with the recent death of Dr. Geoffrey Clark. Indeed, our entire community will miss the impact this man had on the Seacoast.
Jeff was a Families First Board and Advisory Board member, providing invaluable advice as a doctor, a skilled and successful businessman and a person who believed strongly that every person deserves quality medical and dental care, regardless of their financial means.
“Jeff was a very humble man,” said Janet Laatsch, chief executive officer of Greater Seacoast Community Health which includes Families First and Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth. “He and his wife, Martha Fuller Clark, contributed generously every year to Families First. Their willingness to chair and contribute to our capital campaign to move to a larger Portsmouth location was key to its success. When we asked how they would like to be recognized, Jeff’s immediate response was, ‘We don’t want to be honored. It is the Families First staff that should be recognized. It’s all about the staff and patients.’”
Dr. Clark accepted Families First patients who did not have insurance at his practice. He charged the lower, sliding fee scale that Families First uses based on income. In other words, Jeff Clark put his beliefs into action.
But Jeff was more than a doctor, an entrepreneur and a scholar. He and Martha were excellent neighbors. Former Families First board member Karin Barndollar lived next door to the Clarks in Portsmouth for 25 years. The Clarks’ two younger children were close in age to the Barndollar children. “We put a gate into the fence between the two yards so the kids didn’t have to go out in the street when they played together, which was all the time!” Barndollar said.
From something as small as installing a gate to allow children to play together, to something as big as developing important pharmaceuticals, Jeff made things happen. What is remarkable is that he didn’t just do that in his work and his neighborhood, he did it for countless people he never met — the patients of Families First and the beneficiaries of many Seacoast non-profit organizations.
Geoffrey Clark became a licensed pilot before he could even drive a car. He liked to soar. And as he did, he always made sure to use his financial means to make sure others wouldn’t be left behind.
The board and staff of Families First offer our sincere condolences to Dr. Clark’s family.
Greater Seacoast Community Health Board of Directors:
Janet Laatsch, CEO; Karin Barndollar and Barbara Henry, former board members