Clark’s widow thanked

Robert Smith
Barbara Clark, at right, stands with a life-size cutout of her late husband, Roy, prior to the opening of the Roy Clark Memorial Championship Rodeo last Friday at the fairgrounds in Pawhuska. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

Representatives of the American Therapeutic Riding Center and Osage County last Friday evening thanked the widow of the late Roy Clark for allowing the ATRC to use her husband’s name to promote an annual charity rodeo.

“Mrs. Clark, thank you very much for being here,” Osage County Tourism Director Kelly Bland said in introductory remarks Friday. “Osage County loves you.”

Barbara and Roy Clark are said to have had a soft spot for Osage County, taking get-away trips to the area.

The ATRC, based in Sand Springs, provides horseback riding therapeutic services, mostly to children and youth. The group holds an annual charity rodeo at the Osage County Fairgrounds to raise support for its activities. Kenneth and Vickie Burkett founded the nonprofit, which opened to the public in August 2008.

ATRC Executive Director Denise Ward, who organizes and promotes the annual rodeo, indicated she views her work as a divine calling on her life.

“I feel very honored to be in the position that God has placed me,” Ward told the audience Friday night at the Clarence L. Brantley Indoor Arena at the fairgrounds. “I am surrounded by people who are so talented.”

“Ms. Barbara, what an honor and a privilege to have met you,” Ward said, addressing Barbara Clark. “I thank you so much for being here.”

The thank-yous flowed in both directions, with a longtime member of Roy Clark’s band offering remarks.

“On behalf of Barbara and her family, we thank you very much,” said Rodney Lay, who noted he and Roy Clark were friends for more than 58 years. Lay told the audience that the late musician had also helped children by raising money for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Roy Clark died in November 2018 at the age of 85. Clark was born in Virginia and spent portions of his childhood in New York City and Washington, D.C., but was a Tulsa resident at the time of his death. He was the host of the long-running television variety show, “Hee Haw.”