Clark “Sam” Ketchum, 76, died peacefully at Hiland Cottage in Petoskey, Michigan, on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. He was surrounded by his family. His energy and enthusiasm for life was part of everything he did. He will be remembered as someone who worked hard and played hard.
Clark was born in Petoskey on Sept. 6, 1938. After graduation from Petoskey High School in 1956, he went to barber school and worked at the Palace Barber Shop in Petoskey from 1957 – 1969. In 1964, he became the part-time parks and recreation director for the city of Petoskey; eventually becoming the first full-time director.
During his tenure with the city of Petoskey, the Petoskey Bathing Beach became the Petoskey State Park, the marina was built and came under the supervision of the parks and recreation department, the senior center was created under the oversight of the parks department, the tennis courts and softball fields at the Petoskey High School were developed through collaboration between the schools and the city with the help of a federal grant. All his accomplishments with the Petoskey Parks and Recreation Department are too numerous to mention.
Clark left the parks department in 1975 to explore the entrepreneurial side of athletics and recreation. However, he missed the excitement and challenge of working in parks and recreation. Clark went back to school and earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in parks and recreation administration from Central Michigan University. In 1985, he took the position of superintendent of parks and recreation in Greenfield, Indiana.
During the 20 years in Greenfield, Clark made significant contributions to the community both in his official capacity and in his civic involvement. Under his watch the Greenfield Senior Citizen’s Center was created and expanded, the preschool program grew to over 100 children annually, the Riley Home and Riley Museum were placed with the parks department, joint use agreement with the schools was developed, two parks were created, and a new community center was built. He served on a number of boards, most notably as a founding member of the Hancock County Community Foundation.
Clark became active on the state and national levels. Greenfield was the first department in the state of Indiana to become nationally accredited. Because of his leadership in this area, he became part of the National Accreditation Peer-Review Team, traveling across the country, reviewing other departments.
He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Petoskey, Friendship Centers Board, Petoskey Bay View Country Club and passionately served over 50 years on the Camp Daggett Board of Trustees.
Clark was dedicated to leaving things better than he found them. He raised expectations by demanding that we lay the groundwork today for the next generation. He was a unique individual who made a difference.
He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Grace (Parrott) Ketchum; children Stephen Ketchum of Harbor Springs, Crystal (Ross) Blumke of Alanson, and Joseph (Stacy) Ketchum of Livonia; lifelong friend George Robinson; family dog Reggie; siblings Wayne (Paula) Wilber, Dee (Leo) Peasley, Ramona Hyatt Hart, Norma Hyatt and Wanda (Ralph) Merrill.
Clark was preceded in death by his father, John Ketchum; mother May (VanAken) Wilber; brother Mike Wilber; uncle Cy Ketchum and the children’s mother, Sharon (Bussler) Ketchum.
Donations may be made to the Camp Daggett Fund, in the Petoskey Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Fund, in the Hancock County Community Foundation or a charity of choice.
A celebration of life will take place at a later date.
To quote Clark, “and so on and so forth…”