Accomplished rider, biochemist, cancer researcher and gardener Carmella Clark, 64, died Sept. 4 four days after suffering an inoperable brain hemorrhage.
She was honored recently at Monastery Stables, where this memorial tribute of her on her thoroughbred, Tachyon, has been mounted on the wall inside the barn, and another celebration was held when a memorial bench was installed,
“In memory of Carmella Clark, fine horse woman, star volunteer, generous friend,” is the inscription for a bench that will look out at the horses and an open field near Monastery Stables in Mt. Airy dedicated to the legacy of Carmella Clark.
Carmella Vernette Clark, a longtime Germantown resident and biochemist, was born in Philadelphia on June 17, 1953,
While at West Chester University working on her undergraduate degree, Clark learned that horseback riding was offered as an elective phys ed course, and the city girl jumped at the chance to learn to ride.
She and her husband Mark Paulmier. met while she was working on her graduate degree and he on his undergraduate degree at Temple University.
From 1994 to ’98 she competed at recognized dressage shows at Training Level on her thoroughbred, Statesboro Blues and from 2008 to 2010 she competed at Training and then First Level with her Oldenburg, Tachyon.
AFTER 2010 her enthusiasm for shows waned, and she concentrated on trail riding.
“Those were perhaps some of our happiest years living here and being so connected to the horses and nature,” Paulmier said.
Prior to her retirement, Clark worked at Thomas Jefferson University for 25 years doing cancer research.
She served on the Board of Kitchens Lane Stables, Boarders and Stewards of the Monastery (BSM), was active in the Pennsylvania Equine Council and was a founding member of the Philadelphia Saddle Club.
She was a Trail Ambassador with Friends of the Wissahickon and was known for her baking skills and blueberry jam.
She also learned how to spin yarn from wool and demonstrated her skills at historical sites for young people.
“She was passionate about helping young people learn new things like horseback riding and spinning,” said Paulmier.
Theresa Sarmina remembered working closely with Clark in 1994 upon learning that the city was putting the Monastery property up for a lease.
The two women, along with a small group of volunteers, formed BSM, a nonprofit charitable organization, where Clark served in a host of leadership positions over the years.
In 2006, Sarmina, along with Clark and a handful of volunteers, founded another non-profit organization, Kitchens Lane Stables, to take over the daily management of the stables.
“I can tell you that she loved the horses and said that managing that aspect was the easy part. She was not so thrilled with managing all of the various (human) personalities and their demands,” Sarmina said. “Maybe it was her scientific mind and the discipline she developed from the research that led her to be such a knowledgeable horsewoman, from which we surely benefitted over this past quarter of a century.”
CLARK SENT numerous letters to publications about her pet cause, dogs off-leash in the Wissahickon, that sparked her to become an FOW Trail Ambassador.
“She will be remembered by us as a fierce defender of nature, a lover of the park and a courageous woman," said Kris Soffa, a fellow Trail Ambassador. "Her smile is greatly missed.”
Diane Garvey met Clark in April of 2005 as a new rider with the Philadelphia Saddle Club.
“At first I was not an experienced rider and was looking for people to go with me on the trails for just an easy ride. Carmella was the only one willing to trail ride with me at my speed,” said Garvey. “During those rides we would discuss books, American history and magazine articles about horses. It was like a combination trail ride and book club meeting.”
Chestnut Hill resident Liz Jarvis first encountered Carmella 10 years ago in the park with Jarvis’ off leash dogs.
Jarvis, who had formerly been a rider, sheepishly complied with Carmella’s demand from atop her horse to leash the dogs.
Two years later Jarvis joined the Philadelphia Saddle Club.
“I will always remember how she talked with a soft voice, so if I rode behind her, I had to ask her to turn her head for me to hear. What an interesting contrast with her strong personality,” Jarvis remembered. “Whenever I come to Monastery Stables, I think of Carmella. It is hard for me to imagine this place without her.”
A service was held on Sept. 16 at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses Germantown, where her husband of 36 years, Mark Paulmier, is a minister.
On Oct. 21, another service was held overlooking the horse corral and riding ring at Monastery Stables in Mt. Airy for her fellow riders, Friends of the Wissahickon Trail Ambassadors, and her husband. The setting was apropos as Carmella spent countless volunteer hours at the barn, tending the garden, advising on horse health, pitching in on work days and more. At one point she even jumped in to serve as barn manager, and she and Mark moved into a cottage on the property.
In addition to her husband, Carmella is survived by sister Charlene Clark and brothers, Chester and Carlton, as well as many in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. Donations for a memorial bench may be made to the Boarders and Stewards of the Monastery (BSM) in honor of Carmella Clark, 1000 Kitchens Lane, Philadelphia, 19119.