This photo of Vicki used courtesy of Mary V.
In Memory of Victoria Clark, long time friend, K/S fan, editor of Nome
I learned last year my good friend Vicki Clark passed away. I’ve tried many times to write this tribute to her; it’s taken me quite some time to be able to put words to keyboard.
Vicki was well known in K/S fandom for many years as the co-editor of the fanzine “Nome” and for her active involvement in NYC area Trek fandom from the 70s to the 90s.
Vicki and her co-editor did an amazing job with “Nome”. It was a pioneering zine – excellent writing, breathtaking art, and the highest production standards.
I met Vicki in 1979. I’d been in fandom for four years by then; I’d been to conventions; I’d published fanzines. But in many ways I was a complete neo.
One of the things I most wanted to do was to meet and get to know some of the East Coast fans who I had been corresponding with. That involved going to east coast Star Trek conventions – starting with a big one in NYC (one of the Townsley conventions, if anyone remembers those).
I grew up in a town with three stoplights and no building taller than two stories. The idea of going to *Manhattan* by *myself* was incredibly intimidating. But Vicki made everything so easy – she arranged for two roommates for me to stay with at the hotel, both of whom I’m still in contact with. She introduced me around, she invited me to her room parties. She, and her co-editor, published my first K/S story and some of my other writings.
She made me feel welcome to fandom in every way.
Our friendship would last for the next 30 years, and like so many of the best of friendships that begin in fandom, it quickly transcended fandom.
I saw her almost every year in the 80s, first at the NYC area conventions, and then at Shore Leave, a still-going convention in Baltimore, MD, where K/S fans have been gathering since its very first year. Vicki always threw wonderful fan parties at Shore Leave; I have such great memories of those days.
She stopped being actively involved in Trek fandom in the early 90s, but our friendship just kept right on going. I had business most summers in New York, and I would always take extra days to visit her at her beautiful home in the Hudson Valley north of Manhattan. Those visits still hold wonderful memories for me. I can vividly picture her in her kitchen right now. She was an amazing cook. After dinner, the two of us would sit across from each other at her small kitchen table, staying up half the night, talking about everything that came to mind.
Memories: She dearly loved her cats. I can remember four, though she didn’t have them all at the same time – Pumpkin, Pyewacket, Devin and Vincent. Three orange boys and one tortie girl.
We’d have breakfast out on her deck, because I always visited in the summer and so the weather was good. We travelled all around the Hudson River Valley and other parts of New York. I love history, so we visited Revolutionary War-era homes and sites, a “living history” village on Long Island, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, and more. We’d have dinner at a variety of restaurants, including a Colonial era one near a waterfall.
One year we attended a special concert at Carnegie Hall. We decided to do the real tourist thing by taking one of those river cruises around Manhattan – fun! Then the concert, then late dinner and drinks. By that time it was really really late, and another friend, who had also gone to the concert, recommended we stay in her fifth floor walkup Manhattan apartment instead. Like most Manhattan apartments, it was tiny – basically one room. But between the couch and cushions on the floor we managed to find enough room for five of us. Of course we spent most of the night talking…
She was passionate about animals and after retiring from teaching high school English, she spent time doing volunteer work with animals.
In my visit with her in 2006, aside from meeting her new, handsome, rambunctious Labradoodle puppy, I conducted an interview with her for Jenna Sinclair’s K/S Legacy project, which covers the history of K/S fandom through 2006. I’m going to post the entire interview to LJ after I post this here:
It took us literally hours to do the interview as we kept going off on all sorts of tangents. We wandered “down memory lane” as one story would inspire another and yet another, most of which weren’t part of the interview – memories of mutual friends and convention happenings reminded us of all manner of stories.
My memory is failing me here. Because one visit – either 2005 or 2006 – came just before a routine medical test for Vicki which turned out to be the beginning of the end. All I remember is, I stayed one day less than I usually did, as she had a scheduled medical test on the following day. I remember we talked about what was involved in having the test/procedure done. She didn’t seem worried about it.
The test results were positive.
The last time I saw her was August 2007. I knew it was going to be “a” last time. One of our long-standing traditions was coming to an end, because she had retired and was moving to a different state.
I didn’t know it was going to be “the” last time.
That last time I visited with her stands out clearly in my memory. She was a bit fragile from the medical treatments she’d been undergoing, but she had good news: the treatments seemed to be working. I didn’t stay with her that year. She wasn’t feeling up to having company, so she met me where I was staying in Tarrytown.
We went out to a restaurant by the river and were seated on an outdoor patio. Good food, good wine, good conversation. We enjoyed the evening and had a leisurely meal, watching the sunset, listening to the sound of the river going by. She was in great spirits. She was looking forward to her upcoming move to New Mexico, a part of the US she loved, where she planned to live near some relatives.
I didn’t hear much from her over the next year until she got in touch with her new address and phone number. The move had gone well.
Spring of 2009 and our last phone call. We talked about her new neighborhood. We speculated about the upcoming Trek movie. She seemed happy in her new home. We talked about plans about me coming to visit her, or her coming to visit me. We didn’t have the entire continent dividing us anymore. We were both anticipating more frequent visits.
2009 was crazy busy. Because of all kinds of RL commitments, I kinda “disappeared from sight” for several months, only resurfacing around Christmas time.
I didn’t get a Christmas card from her that year. That had never happened, not once, but things do get lost in the mail.
I tried calling her early in 2010. Her phone was disconnected.
I was beginning to fear the worst. But my Christmas card to her had not been returned by the Post Office. So I wrote her another letter. And then another Christmas card.
I didn’t hear anything back. But my letters weren’t returned either.
I knew there could be all kinds of reasons for her silence. I kept holding on to that one thought: my letters weren’t being returned. Surely, if something had happened to her, her relatives would let me know. I was in touch with some of her friends, and they had not heard anything either, from either her or her relatives. I wrote again. Still nothing.
Then, a few months ago, one of my letters, postmarked May 2010, was returned with the word “deceased” stamped on it. None of the others ever showed up.
I tried being a detective. I called her local newspaper to see if they had an obituary. They didn’t. I tried calling Public Records, but New Mexico is a closed record state and you can’t get birth or death notices on anyone without legal reasons. I googled local mortuaries and searched their lists of funerals. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Finally I tried one of those genealogy sites – and had my answer.
Victoria Helen Clark
July 22, 1942 – September 29, 2009
I miss you, Vicki.
(With thanks to Mary V. and morgan who found more information on her passing.)