Hollis Clark ABFMS – Haiti Alumnus, Called Home
May 26, 2022.
Hollis W. Clark, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumnus, passed away on April 15, 2022, at the age of 85, in Key Largo, Florida.
Hollis was born on October 15, 1936, in Jacksonville, Florida. He was raised in a Baptist environment in Florida and accepted Christ at age 12.
While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Hollis had a deep Christian experience. He felt that God was leading him to prepare for medical missionary service. Upon discharge from military service, Hollis began the long process of medical training. Hollis did his undergraduate study in Long Beach, California, where he met Wanda Lehr. Hollis joined a group of Baptist youth volunteers in 1960 to work on a summer project in Haiti. At this same time Wanda attended a college age retreat in the mountains above Los Angeles. These two experiences had confirmed their desire to pursue mission work.
Hollis and Wanda were married on August 25, 1961. In subsequent years, during Hollis’ schooling at the University of Miami School of Medicine, they both served in Haiti four times to render volunteer service. With each new experience came a deepening of their love for the Haitian people and a sense of God’s call to a service there.
In May of 1969, Hollis and Wanda were appointed by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) to serve in Haiti. They welcomed their daughter, Linda, shortly after their appointment. Originally, the Clarks served at Good Samaritan Hospital in Limbe, Haiti. In one of the Clarks’ letters they wrote, “What are we doing here? We are doing what thousands before have done and are doing daily. We are sharing our faith. The place just happens to be Limbe, Haiti.”
By the time the Clark’s first furlough came due, Hollis felt he should secure additional training in tropical medicine and public health. He proceeded to earn his master’s degree in tropical medicine and public health at Harvard School of Medicine. Upon returning to Haiti, the Clarks went to St. Michel in central Haiti, where they gave a strong emphasis to public health care in the operation of a base clinic while serving the rural area around St. Michel. A significant aspect of the work there was the development and utilization of Haitian personnel.
The years spent in St. Michel made the Clarks very aware of the fact that eye care in Haiti was very lacking. During their next furlough, Hollis took studies at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida. Upon completion of his studies and returning to Haiti, Hollis began to offer much needed ophthalmology services.
In 1989 they, with the blessing of the Haitian Baptist Convention, opened the Cap Haitian Eye Center, which also used the skills of a Haitian ophthalmologist, Dr. Carmelle Lucien. The staff directed its efforts toward cataract surgery, treating glaucoma, poor eyesight, and blindness throughout northern Haiti.
Hollis and Wanda were continually training and encouraging local people. In a letter the Clarks wrote to the partners of the Cap Haitian Eye Center thanking them for their support, they said, “My continued prayer is that our emphasis will not just be on providing excellent service but that the Eye Center patients and their families might realize that….because…He came….we came.”
On March 31, 2007, Hollis and Wanda retired and moved to Key Largo, Florida. For a period of time they continued assisting the Eye Center in Haiti.
Hollis is survived by his wife, Wanda; daughter, Linda Bray (husband, Trey); and seven grandchildren: India, Poppy, Lily, Quilla. Sparrow, Jubilee and Hananiah.
As requested by Hollis, there will be no memorial service.