Marjorie Yuke Ching Chock Clark was born in 1935 to Wilfred and Violet Ching Chock, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the youngest of siblings Evelyn Mun (deceased), Bertha Fong, and Wallace and James Chock. Early morning August 26th, Marge drifted from peaceful sleep in her Kaneohe home to join, in Heaven, devoted husband John—who had passed enjoying K-Bay views on the lanai less than three months prior—and their beloved son Lee, taken by cancer two years ago. Marge is survived by daughter Lin, son-in-law Wilson, and granddaughter Maia of Kaneohe, Hawaii, grandson Liam Miller of Auburn, Wash., Lee’s children Matthew, Jennifer, Michelle and Nicholas Clark of Montana, daughter-in-law Sharon Clark and step-granddaughters Kaylene (partner Chan) and Janelle Jaworski, all of southern California, 10 nieces and nephews, and four great-grandchildren.
Margie was only six when her family witnessed Japanese Zeros bombing Pearl Harbor, some planes flying so low they could see the Rising Sun insignia. Under threat of future attacks, they blacked-out windows ensuring no light escaped and, like her classmates, she learned to quickly don a gas mask, then lugged it to and from school. Living close to a potential bombing target of military personnel, materiel, and long-range batteries, the family and neighbors joined forces to build a bomb shelter.
Growing up an admitted tom-boy, Marge played sports with her brothers, and climbed from the garage roof into fruit-laden trees, bringing salt and pepper to gorge themselves on green mangoes. Every summer, the kids would take the steamer from Oahu to Kauai to visit grandmother, ending up in her mango trees, too, deftly dodging geckos to reach more unripe delicacies. When the family moved to Oahu’s windward side, Margie bid aloha to Kaimuki mango trees, and embraced the waters of Kaneohe Bay, spending hours rowing the family skiff, solo, in the channel fronting their Bay-side home, apparently unfazed by curious Hammerheads and Tiger sharks.
Following graduation from Roosevelt High, Marge attended then-Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa and the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she met the love of her life while working toward a physical education teaching degree she would never get to complete. Two years after Marge and John married, they wrapped up Lee and Lin in a blanket, burrito style, and headed out on a study break road-trip up the coast with a friend. On a rainy Oregon afternoon, the friend lost control and their car skidded off the oil-slicked road and over a cliff, throwing the kids out, as the car tumbled down the ravine. No one died, but Marge, dragged up to the road by well-meaning passers-by, suffered a crushed spinal cord and total paralysis of both legs. The kids were unharmed, cushioned by the blanket, but Lin—still wrapped in the middle—was left behind until John alerted authorities who rushed back to the scene to find her that night. Always the dedicated mother, Marge’s first words after regaining consciousness in the hospital, “Where’s my baby? I need to nurse my daughter.”
Following failed surgeries, agonizing traction, and months of painful recovery, Marge refused to feel sorry for herself. After rehabilitating near ohana in Hawaii, she returned to California where she tackled, head-on, myriad daily challenges like lifting herself in and out of the bed and tub, handling household chores, shopping, sewing clothes without patterns (like the dress she wears, here), jury-rigging frugal DIY repairs, and raising two kids—who came home from school, hand-in-hand, like she’d taught them, to hear Mama whistling happily or singing beautifully. After they settled down in Summerland, near the beach and Santa Barbara Harbor, Marge supported John’s commercial fishing efforts, helping to build crab pots, and weave and mend huge fish nets. She cooked sumptuous meals for family—even seven-course Chinese dinners for friends, and delectable desserts fans still crave. When the kids were older, she worked outside the home, matching gems and bezels with Jostens rings, and assembling high-voltage performance products for Kilovac. At home, she mastered securities investment and crafted hand-made trout fishing flies. She accomplished all these without high-tech tools and accessibility aids.
John, known locally as a talented illustrator and print maker, wasn’t the only artist in the family: Marge drew sensitive black and white sketches, one of a precious baby owl, and painted a small collection she called “Après Gauguin”–her beautifully vibrant versions of Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian women, including iconic oils Ta Matete (We Shall Not Go to Market Today), When Will You Marry? and Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary). The portrait Marge lovingly painted of her daughter, in bright red-and-white aloha wear, now graces their island home, juxtaposed with John’s Mona Lisa-like immortalization of his “Empress” Marge, clad regally in a loden green, traditional brocade cheongsam.
Long will family and friends cherish memories not only of Marge’s exotic Chinese-Hawaiian beauty, sweet disposition and even temper, but her incredible strength and resolve, confined to a wheelchair unable to move her legs for over 62 years. Those who knew her suffering, and the unrelenting back and hip pain she endured without complaint, drew constant inspiration from her example, learning never to take for granted those blessings they did have. Her life, truly, enriched our lives.
Asked once by her daughter what she missed most about being ambulatory, she sighed, wistfully: “Being able to feel sand between my toes.” Free of her chair and the pain, Mama now walks the beaches of Heaven with Dad and Lee, finally at peace.
Marjorie will be interred next to John on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. at Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary, 2233 Nuuanu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96817. Her brother, Reverend James Chock will provide the blessing. In lieu of flowers, the family requests consideration of a donation in memory of Marjorie Chock Clark, to the locally owned and operated heath care company that so lovingly ministered her home hospice comfort: Malama Ola Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 30273, Honolulu, HI 96820; or malamaolacares.com/donation/