BLOG: Rest in Peace, Shawn Clark

Patch reader and skating parent Annie O'Malden reflects on the impact Shawn Clark had on her family and the city-at-large in this heartfelt tribute to his memory.

My boys have been avid skateboarders for almost 15 years. During that time we have spent countless hours and money investing in this sport, which it surely is a sport.

The boys gave organized sports a try and decided the skateboard world offered more than they found in seasonal sports. These kids would skate year round no matter what the weather. This world put them into a “family” of kids who were unlike those jocks they previously mixed with. Many of these kids defied the “loner, pot-smokers” image although certainly there are some of those as well.

What appealed to them most was the camaraderie not found elsewhere. They found a supportive culture where everyone cheered on the others successes and taught them motivation, creativity and persistence in trying tricks and moves in endless attempts until they got it done.  The sound of your friends cheering you on cannot be sweeter to these kids. All you needed was a board and off you went. You could make friends just by skating. You didn’t even have to be any good at it.

Thanks to Chris Simonelli, the city created the skate park although they discourage these athletes from skating after 4pm during the winter as the lights are not allowed to turn on there. All the talk about childhood obesity and these kids are not allowed to exercise their sport because of only being allowed to do it outside and when the light is available. Have you ever seen a fat skateboarder? How much trouble do you hear about at the skate park?

Sure, there is trouble in the back behind the park where the drunks and drug addicts hang around who have nothing to do with skating. Yes, I have mentioned this to several police officers. They agree and say they will keep a better eye out on the area. Just as the Teen Enrichment Center appeals to certain teens, this park is vital to those who skate.

My husband and I have known countless boys who have come into our car or home and have been nothing less than respectful and thankful for our friendship and burgers and dogs we have fed them over the years. I make the statement I am trying to “save the world one boy at a time” and can say Shawn Clark felt the same way.

I have never met him, yet he comes highly recommended and had been lovingly called “Skate Dad” by the kids. Many of these kids don’t have active dads in their lives, and just as my husband and I have tried to be an influence, Shawn Clark was there for many of those kids. He understood the skate culture and was a mentor to those kids, who are not out there with guns robbing people. He was there to show them a better way. He was also there to show them someone actually cared about them. He was ok with them hanging around and provided a bench like no other outside his shop.  He wanted them to be there.

Unlike other store owners who just want their money, he cared about them. And they knew it and felt it.

Shawn Clark was an example of what this city needs more of: someone who can be a positive influence on our young people who are trying to figure out this world they are growing into. He was an example of the good role models we need for our young people. He was doing the work of those who are not there to guide these young people to a successful, productive life.

He was a real unsung hero. He didn’t care they were not the jocks and brainiacs in school to whom so many in this city and others give all the advantages. He made them feel worthy of the respect all humans crave. Those who took his life certainly needed someone like Shawn in their own lives, as they clearly have lost their way. Now that Shawn is no longer there, who will step up for those boys who still need his mentoring? It seems he cannot rest in peace knowing he left those behind to fend for themselves, especially his own family.

If this city is serious about cutting down on crime, they need to invest in ALL the young people and honor the memory of Shawn Clark. I personally want to thank him for being a friend and an ally for those boys who, despite being labeled as underserving of better facilities, surely needed him to guide them. How many more senseless crimes will it take before we don’t have to fear those who are there to harm the good people of this city just trying to live a decent life?

It does take a village to raise a child, so we need to do what Shawn showed us how to do: respect each other, no matter what your passion is.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Matthew January 31, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Annie very well written. So sad to lose such a great man who had such a good influence on the kids in this City. He was a great neighborhood businessman, who respected everybody. My sons and their friends always talked highly of him. Rest in peace Shawn, may God Bless you children and wife.
Kelly Ilebode January 31, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Heart wrenching! Thank you for writing this!
DannyBoy January 31, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Thank you Annie for writing such a compelling and heartfelt tribute to a fallen hero, Shawn Clark. Reading this blog gave me a knot in my throat.
Kerry Callahan January 31, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Beautifully written and so very heartfelt! I don't know you but I'm proud of you for putting this out there and also doing your own part to help the youth of today.
AppleBottom02148 January 31, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Very nicely stated
Shawn parent January 31, 2013 at 05:59 PM
That was beautiful alot of people don't see both sides of the fence the people we don't give a chance to end up being good people
Todd Brugman January 31, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Well said, Shawn did great things for the local skateboard community and will be missed by all. Skateboarding is a positive and creative activity to be a part of; I have been skateboarding for 23 years and it is great that people like Shawn have helped spread the positive aspects of skateboarding.
Bill M January 31, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Thank You Annie.
joe griffin February 01, 2013 at 12:48 AM
well said.
paul surette February 01, 2013 at 11:44 AM
I'm just curious, Todd (and I'm sure this comment will get deleted like yesterday's did) what redeeming value does skateboarding bring to society again?
Karen February 01, 2013 at 04:48 PM
I am so glad that you have put this out there for people to see. Despite what many people think of skaters, I have always shared your view of the skate community and its value to any community as another outlet for good kids. I am deeply saddened that this tragedy has befallen Shawn, who was, as you said, the kind of leader our city and our world need more of. Let's make sure he hasn't died in vain, and, in his name, each take on some responsibility for bettering the lives of the young people of Malden.
Todd Brugman February 01, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Skateboarding is a positive activity to partake in as it is great excercise and stimulates the mind in creative ways. It is a great activity, just as soccer and baseball are; they get people off the couch and active. Skateboarding is more of an art than a sport, learning it is a creative process that stimulates the mind. Healthy individuals must have healthy recreations; and with the growing recreations of the youth being computers and video games, I believe skateboarding to be a very important modern physical activity. Also as it is a relativly inexpencive recreation, all can do it, it crosses many social-econmic boundaries that you don't see with all sports. The sterotypical skateboarder depicted by the media in TV and movies doesn't exist. The men I skateboard with on a regualar basis are a Lawyer, a Social Worker, Book Store Manager, Electrican, and Barista. I skateboard with men that are positive functioning members of society- great fathers and positive roll models in out community. Skateboarding has allowed me to travel, meet people, and have experiencies I would have otherwise missed out on. Having a local skateboard scene and park growing up helped me stay active and away from drugs and alcohol. I am curious at to what negative impact people feel skateboarding has on there community. Men like Shawn Clark provided a voice for an often overlooked sub-culture and was positive roll model for many in the community. He will be greatly missed.
Matthew February 01, 2013 at 08:16 PM
How about a sport and activity for the kids. Just like hockey, basenall, football, soccer, ect. Really Paul. What a dumb statment.
kate lipton February 02, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Annie - Thanks. I appreciate sincere people.
Chris Caesar February 02, 2013 at 10:07 AM
MJC stop this immediately or you will be banned with prejudice.
Diana February 02, 2013 at 10:27 AM
It certainly brings more value than trolling tributes on local websites, if only because it burns calories.
MJC February 02, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Thank you Karen, from all of Shawn's family! There has been a bit of ignorance here which is appalling! Please pray for his 2 young boys, wife, mother and family, we really do need this right now.
Chris Caesar February 04, 2013 at 07:07 PM
So much for signing off, MJC. I had to ban you.
Brian February 05, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Annie, Thanks for a fantastic blog; you have really captured the essence of Shawn and the community that he lived in and fostered. It is the rare individual that can connect so well with kids that are often marginalized by the mainstream. I've seen this in a handful of teachers and community leaders and I respect it more and more every time. After joining the candlelight vigil and then meeting a lot of these kids tonight at Shawn's funeral, I am as impressed with them as you noted in the blog. We saw at least a couple hundred kids that showed great respect and love and brotherhood. Some pulled together tributes to Shawn including movies, pictures and a skateboard deck signed by all for the family. I thought that I had an open mind before but now I really have a whole new respect for these kids. I just hope that others can step up and help fill the void. Brian


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