June Hale Clark, International Ministries Missionary to Congo, died in Houston, TX on December 3, 2022. She was 95 years old. On November 25th, she told her daughter, even through her dementia, “I am going to Heaven.”
Edith June was born on June 19, 1927 in Morristown, Tennessee to George Lafayette Hale and Selma Susong Hale. She grew up on a farm, “Solitude”, in East Tennessee with two brothers and two sisters. Her childhood memories were based on family gatherings and going to church. Her father, Papa, died when June was 12 years old.
The Hale family attended Rocky Point Baptist Church, a church about half a mile down the road on Fish Hatchery Road. Her father was a deacon. Her mother played the piano and later the organ. She was involved in Sunday School and Girls Auxillary (GAs), a Southern Baptist mission program. In the summer of 1937, June accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at a GA camp. She was ten years old.
June attended Morristown High School where she was salutatorian of her senior high school class. In 1945, she entered Salem College, a womens’ college in Winston Salem, NC majoring in science. In the summer of her junior year, she attended a Baptist assembly conference at Ridgecrest. She felt God calling her to be a medical missionary. She wanted to be a doctor. June and her sister, Harriett, attended Carson Newman College (CN). They both met their future husbands at CN. Harriett and her husband, Rev. Calvin Parker became Southern Baptist missionaries in Japan. June graduated from Carson Newman in May, 1949 with a BS degree in Science. Her fiancee, James Clark also graduated with a degree in History. James had been a Marine in WWII. James and June got teaching jobs after college. June enjoyed teaching and became a teacher.
On June 23, 1951, James and June were married at Rocky Point Baptist Church. They moved to Abingdon, VA, James’ hometown, to work as teachers. Their first daughter, Betty Sue, was born on August 21, 1952 in Abingdon. Later that year, they moved to Philadelphia, PA to attend Eastern Baptist Seminary to take seminary classes as a step to becoming career missionaries. They liked living in PA for a year and the classes.
June and Jim were appointed as ABFMS missionaries on March 23, 1953 to serve in the Belgian Congo (later known as Democratic Republic of Congo) as educational missionaries. They studied French in Brussels, Belgium for a year. In 1955, they started teaching at Sona Bata where they continued learning Kikongo. They moved to Nsona Mpangu (NM) that year after the sudden death of their Congolese friend, Remy Malutama and NM needed teachers. They finished their first term at Vanga as teachers. Their other 2 daughters, Jeanie and Sylvia were born at Kimpese in 1956 and 1958. Dr. Tuttle delivered them. They came to Congo with one daughter and returned to the US in 1959 with three daughters. Because of Congo’s independence, the Clarks stayed in TN and VA for two years. At Vanga, June taught Betty and other children the Calvert course.
June and Jim and family returned to DRCongo in 1962 and were on loan from the American Baptists to be teachers at The American School of Leopoldville, TASOL, later becoming TASOK. Jim taught History classes. June taught Algebra and two years of 6th grade. She taught Betty in the 6th grade. They enjoyed their 4 years living in Kinshasa.
After a furlough, the Clarks returned to Congo and served the next 9 years at Nsona Mpangu from 1967-1977. June taught English, all 4 Secondary years. Jim taught History classes in French and was the librarian. Both Jim and June believe all students deserve a good education wherever they are. June also taught women’s sewing and reading classes at a nearby village, Bette village. June cooked many meals for those passing thru Nsona Mpangu. Thanksgiving, 1967, the Clark family got stuck in the wet red clay driving in their small Opal. They were a mile or two from the station. Jeanie and Sylvia remember walking into Nsona Mpangu with Kristi Uhlinger, their friend, a frozen turkey, groceries, a kitten and mud on our shoes, laughing with their parents in the dark.
The Clarks spent a years furlough in 1977-78 at Central Baptist Seminary in Kansas, as missionaries in residence. They happily returned to Congo and spent the next 2 terms as teachers at Sona Bata. June continued to teach English to secondary students. Jim taught Bible and Morality classes for eight years. He was also librarian and bought French books for the library. A former student said, “Mrs. Clark was the best English teacher. She taught me for two years. I never forgot the songs and Christmas carols she taught us. She invited me for morning tea. God is saying to her, Well done, good and faithful servant” They retired in 1987. Sona Bata leaders gave them a fete thanking them for their service and love for people at Sona Bata.
The Clarks returned to Johnson City, TN and were active in their church at Central Baptist Church. June helped with VBS Mission classes, WMU. She liked to have tea parties with her grandchildren and the GAs. She also helped with the Chinese fellowship. They moved to Maple Crest in October, 2005 after selling their house. They lived at Maple Crest from 2005-2014 when June started showing signs of dementia. She was forgetting how to prepare a meal, how to play Canasta, etc. Jim and June and June’s sisters had played Canasta as a hobby in Congo and in TN. They moved to Pine Oaks where June had to go into memory care. June had to stay in memory care as she had dementia for 15 years. Jim and June moved to TX in 2019 to be close to their daughter. June died at Auberge on Dec. 3. She told Jeanie that she was happy to die.
June liked to bake and cook. She made mango pies for her family and mission fairs in Johnson City. She made goo, caramelized sweetened cond. milk. She made moussaka. She was known for her chess pies in Congo. They were easy to make. June also liked to sing. She knew many Christian hymns. She taught her students songs in class. She sang in the JOY Senior Choir at Central Baptist. JOY stands for Just Older Youth. Her favorites were Go Tell It On The Mountain and Trust and Obey. June was full of joy, the joy of Jesus. Some attributes of June were her discipline, working and teaching every day, her joy and kindness toward others. Jim and June gave money toward scholarships and school tuition to students in Congo. She had enthusiasm, smiling and laughing and loved playing board games and cards with her daughters and grandchildren. Some of them said that June was the smartest lady they knew. June celebrated her 95th birthday in June with two large chocolate cakes and singing Happy Birthday along with the family.
June had joy in her life every day of her life, even with dementia. She was always smiling and laughing even with her dementia, a terrible debilitating disease.
Those that preceded June in death are her husband of 68 years, James B. Clark, nickname Jimbo, her daughter and son-in-law, Betty Clark and Monty Peters, her two brothers Vernon and George Hale, her in-laws James and Bessie Clark, her brother-in-law Dudley Brown and her sister and brother-in-law, Harriett and Calvin Parker.
The family that survives and remembers June’s memories are her two daughters, Jeanie Trout (Chip) in Texas, Sylvia Taylor in Indiana, her sister Sara Pat who turned 100 years old on Dec. 9, her brother-in-law and his wife, John and Ina Clark in TN, her six grandchildren, Charlotte, James, Tim, Sara, Rachel and Jenny, her six great-grandchildren, Anderson, Nora, Tom, Noah, Samuel and Piper. Aunt June loved her Congo MKs and her Hale nieces and nephews, Tom, Sam, Steve, Kyle Hale, Patsy Nell, Frank, John, Andrew Parker and Jayna, Laura and Ann Hale.
June’s Celebration of Life Service was on December 10, 2022 at the Morris Baker Funeral Home Dogwood Chapel in Johnson City, TN. Rev. Bill Moore, a Congo missionary kid (mk), son of Charles and Alice Moore, officiated over June’s service. The family was also honored to have long time friends, Rev. Andre and Elizabeth Paku present at the funeral. The family wants to thank Morris Baker for their loving care. The graveside service was held on Dec. 10 at the Mountainview Baptist Cemetery, outside of Abingdon, VA. Chip Trout, her son-in-law assisted with the graveside service. A faithful servant of God was laid to rest on December 10.
The family has designated the following options for memorial contributions:
International Ministries (American Baptist)
1003 W. 9th Ave. Suite A, King of Prussia, PA 19406
(on check, write attn Wayne and Katherine Niles, DRCongo)
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF)
P.O. Box 102972, Atlanta, GA 30368
(on check, write attn Mike and Lynn Hutchinson, Togo)