Obituary: Insurance executive Evans ‘Red’ Clark, 91, led big-band orchestra for many years

10/15/2013 12:00 AM

10/15/2013 12:19 AM

Evans “Red” Clark, a Sacramento title insurance executive and musician who led a big-band orchestra for many years, died Oct. 6 of prostate cancer, his family said. He was 91.

During the week, Mr. Clark was a respected professional and leader in the business community. He worked and climbed the ranks at Capitol City Title Co. and retired in 1987 as vice president and part owner of Founder’s Title Co. He volunteered as a longtime member and fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Sacramento.

On weekends, he was a playful storyteller and master musician who entertained generations of audiences as leader of the Red Clark Orchestra. Inspired as a boy listening to Benny Goodman on the radio, he formed his own band in the late 1940s and devoted his life to making and sharing big-band favorites with audiences throughout Northern California.

He performed at nightclubs, ballroom dances, weddings, country clubs and resorts from West Sacramento to Lake Tahoe with eight to 14 musicians and his wife Doris, a talented vocalist. Between directing, arranging music and playing sets on the drums, clarinet and saxophone, he enjoyed telling jokes and swapping stories with audiences.

“He was a very sharp businessman who played music just about every weekend while he was working full time,” said his daughter Diane Cristofani. “Every Saturday night, Mom and Dad were out with the band.”

In recent years, Mr. Clark led the Rotary Rooters, a group of Rotary Club musicians. Touring a circuit of almost two dozen retirement centers, members performed old standards for seniors and released a CD and DVD that they sold for charity. The events raised money for the Sacramento Rotary Foundation and the Polio Plus program of Rotary International.

Born March 10, 1922, in Sherman Oaks, Evans H. Clark was 5 when his family settled in Carmichael. He began playing the clarinet at Carmichael Elementary School and took up the drums after hearing Gene Krupa play with Goodman’s band. He formed a band at San Juan High School and played on a local radio amateur hour.

He earned a music degree from San Francisco State College and played in a Navy band during World War II. He met his wife while they both were performing with an orchestra at a hotel in Milwaukee and returned to live in Sacramento in 1947. He earned a master’s degree in music from California State University, Sacramento, and gave music lessons to many youngsters, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Mr. Clark had six children with his wife, who died in 2011 after 67 years of marriage. He received the Paul Harris Award for his service and financial contributions to Rotary. He played golf often at Haggin Oaks Golf Course and with his wife on trips to Hawaii and Ireland.

“When he was 85, he shot his age,” his daughter said. “He was a very good golfer.”

In addition to Cristofani, Mr. Clark is survived by his daughters Kathy Youngblood, Lori Blaufuss and Janice; sons Brian and Kevin; sisters Joan Dunklee and Nancy; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento.

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