Oldest known Race Riot survivor dies at 109
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
5/22/12 at 4:07 PM
SEATTLE -- Otis Clark, who was believed to be the oldest living survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot as well as a world-traveling evangelist and one-time butler to movie stars, died Monday in Seattle, family members said.
He was 109.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Eagle Mountain International Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
In Tulsa, a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. May 31 - the 91st anniversary of the Race Riot - at Greenwood Christian Center.
Biggers Funeral Home in Fort Worth, Texas, is in charge of arrangements.
A minister for more than 85 years, Clark had spent the last few years as a bishop with Life Enrichment Ministries, an organization he co-founded with his daughter, Gwyn Williams.
A former Tulsa resident, Clark more recently had split time between Seattle and Dallas, where he had homes.
Born before Oklahoma statehood on Feb. 13, 1903, on a homestead near Guthrie, Clark grew up in Tulsa, where in 1921 the family home burned during the riot.
The riot claimed at least 38 lives and probably more - including Clark’s stepfather, who was never found - and left thousands of black Tulsans homeless and destitute.
For the next four years, the Clark family would live in shanties built by the Red Cross.
Shortly after, Clark left Tulsa and joined his father, who was living in Hollywood, Calif.
Clark found work as an extra in the movie industry and would also work as a butler for Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and other stars.
While in California, Clark also got involved with the famous Azusa Street Mission of Los Angeles, which a few years earlier had been the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement.
He was ordained as a minister and became a leader in the movement, spending much of the next few decades preaching and evangelizing.
Clark’s survivors include his daughter, Gwyn Williams, and one granddaughter.
Listen to an audio interview of Otis Clark for the oral history website Voices of Oklahoma.
Otis Clark, believed to be the oldest living survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, died Monday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World