In honoring Dena Clark’s passing, the family requests donations to be made to The Sharing Center – a mission near and dear to their hearts.
For the past 36 years, The Sharing Center has compassionately served over 400,000 individuals and families facing hunger and homelessness. Through your generous gift, you will be helping to provide urgently needed financial assistance preventing homelessness, fill empty cupboards through the largest free food pantry, a respite center for our homeless neighbors, and dignified care.
Thank you for sharing your gifts, and a piece of your heart!
Odine “Dena” Clifton (Wheeler) Clark, a longtime resident of Panama City, Florida passed away May 27, 2022, in Altamonte Springs, FL after a brief illness. Dena was born May 25, 1929, in Spotsylvania, VA on her grandparents’ farm. At age 3 she moved with her mother Sadie, father James “Boots”, and older sister Maxine, to Linden Farm in Rapidan, VA, where her father managed the dairy business. She attended a one-room primary school and graduated in 1947 from Orange County High School in Orange, VA. From 1947 to 1954 she worked at Leggett’s Department Store in Orange. After an introduction by mutual friends and a short courtship, she married Elbert “Corky” Clark on September 5, 1954, and moved to Washington, D.C. where he was stationed in the U. S. Navy. From 1954 to 1955 she worked for the Hecht Company in Washington D.C. Their first child, Terry, was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1955. The family transferred to Lagas Field Air Force Base, Terceira Azores, where their daughter Gail was born in 1958.
Dena was the consummate military wife supporting the family during her husband’s prolonged absences during the Vietnam war and other tours of duty. She moved the family many times to the Azores islands off Portugal, Long Beach, CA, Panama City, FL, Norfolk, VA, and back to Panama City in 1965 to the U. S. Navy Mine Defense Laboratory. She started working at Sears Roebuck on Harrison Avenue in 1965 and retired in 1991. Sears assigned her to the shoe department, linens, and lawn and garden. She had fond memories of fitting many Bay County children with their back-to-school shoes and showing off her farming and sales skills selling lawn tractors. In 1970, after Corky’s U. S. Navy retirement, the family moved to St. Andrews. Dena loved working in her yard, planting flowers, and tending to her vegetable garden and citrus trees. She was a genteel southern lady with dear friends who enjoyed her fabulous hospitality and cooking. Her salsa recipe is legendary and a family treasure.
With her son Terry, she rode out Hurricane Michael and rebuilt after her home sustained flood damage. In 2020 when Hurricane Sally again flooded her home, she moved to Central FL to live with her daughter Gail and son-in-law. In the past year, she vacationed in Wrightsville Beach, NC; toured Washington, D.C.; visited her sister, niece, and nephew in Pennsylvania; and attended local art and food festivals in Orlando. When not talking on her cell phone to family and friends or reading John Grisham novels and Harlequin romance books, she entertained herself with a steady diet of Hallmark movies and country music videos.
Dena was a charter member of the Fleet Reserve #346 Ladies Auxiliary receiving her 50-year pin in 2021, the Scottish Rite Masonic Ladies Auxiliary, and Sears Retiree Club. She is preceded in death by her parents, Sadie and James Wheeler, and husband Elbert “Corky” Clark. Dena is survived by her son Terry Clark (Mimi) of Panama City and daughter Gail Clark Bittman (Michael) of Sanford, FL; 9 grandchildren: Natalie Clark Markland (Justin) of Huntsville, AL, Tyler Clark (Victoria) of Wesley Chapel, FL, Carson Clark of St. George, UT, Angie Hall (Korey) of Lynn Haven, FL, Charlie Smith of Savannah, GA, Bonnie Bittman of Honolulu, HI, John Bittman (Nina) of Silver Spring, MD, Joseph Bittman (Lauren) of Port St. Lucie, FL, and Katherine Bittman of Atlanta, GA; 4 great-grandchildren: Ruby Markland, Milly Hall, Joseph Bittman Jr., and Hazel Bittman; sister Maxine Beaulieu of Catonsville, MD; nephew John Beaulieu (Barbara) of Gettysburg, PA and niece Michele Beaulieu Carrese (Joe) of Ellicott City, MD.
The family will greet friends from 5:30-7:30 pm Friday, June 17, at Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home in Panama City. Funeral services followed by burial will be at 11:00 am Saturday, June 18 in the chapel at Kent-Forest Lawn.