DECATUR -- Jeffery Dean Clark was born on October 13, 1950 in Decatur, Illinois to Ivan & Norma (Little) Clark. Jeff grew up enjoying the great outdoors, fishing, trapping, hunting and playing with his brothers, sister and many friends. He learned the value of hard work by holding a paper route, selling fresh fruit, mowing lawns and working on the farm with his Grandpa’s. Jeff was the one that always looked after and protected his brothers and sisters. He loved sports, and a challenge, and while at Bethany High School played football, basketball, and track. After graduating he married Shirley McFarland and they had two daughters, Jamie and Dana. Jeff later married Marty Sims and became step father to Rick, Brad and Cheryl Lehman. Jeff found employment at Jibby’s in Sullivan, Illinois where he discovered his passion for the restaurant business. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island Jeff’s enthusiasm for cooking grew as at various times he managed Sullivan, Arcola, and Shelbyville Country Clubs and managed several restaurants in Decatur, Illinois. Jeff had the pleasure of cooking for President Ronald Reagan and actors from California and New York who were performing at the Little Theater On The Square. One of the many highlights of his life, and a story he loved to tell, was meeting Mohammad Ali. Jeff went on to work for Old Country Buffet in several states where he met his wife Norma. Jeff and Norma eventually discovered a little area in Michigan called Silver Lake (Mears, MI) and decided to put down roots by buying The Sands Restaurant. A go to restaurant for Silver Lake residents and visitors, Jeff built a community within his business, often helping employees in need and becoming like a father to many. He often hosted foreign exchange students from around the world to broaden their culinary skills. Jeff weaved himself into the very fabric of Silver Lake and became an active and pivotal community leader. In 2014 he was named Citizen of the Year by the Hart Rotary Club. Jeff was an idea man with a big heart and implemented many of Silver Lake’s beloved events. He started the KCBS Annual BBQ Cook-Off which drew thousands to the Silver Lake area, as well as Community Spirit Day in appreciation of the Silver Lake locals. He began and provided food for a weekly Picnic in the Park, open to all locals and visitors. He supported other businesses, churches and non-profits and was very active in the creation of The Golden Township Park. His presence as a Silver Lake organizer, contributor and icon will be severely missed. Jeff leaves behind his wife, Norma of Puyallup, WA, daughters Jamie (Mark) Korando of Costa Mesa, CA, Dana (Lynn) Clark of Long Beach, CA, Jackie Cameron of KY, Donna Morgan of OH, grandkids Riley, Colt, Ava, Mae & Reese, sisters Corrine (Fred) Braden of Osborn, MO, Rhonda Clark of Gladstone, MO and numerous extended family and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents and brothers Jerry and Kent Clark. Memorial arrangements are being made and will be announced this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either: Camp Conrad Chinnock (A Diabetes Camp for Kids) 12045 E. Waterfront Dr. Playa Vista, CA 90094 (310) 751-3057 or Golden Township Park in Silver Lake 5527 W. Fox Rd. Mears, MI 49436 (231) 873-4413. Share memories with the family at their On-line Guest Book at www.sytsemafh.com Arrangements by The Sytsema Chapel of Sytsema Funeral and Cremation Services, 737 Apple Ave., Muskegon, MI 49442 (231) 726-5210.
Obituary written by family members.