Thirty-two years ago Mary Ann Clark raised money for the very first scholarship to be offered by the nascent American Association of University Women Flagler branch, one of the innumerable organizations she’d helped start or run locally. Founding or leading things was in her blood. To get the scholarship fund going, she crocheted an afghan and took it around the community to raffle it off, selling tickets along the way.
Since then, AAUW has awarded 231 scholarships to Flagler County students totaling $220,000.
Two years ago Clark celebrated her 90th birthday with her friends at AAUW. Her health declining, her ability to keep her house in Flagler Beach diminishing, Clark’s family last August moved her back to an assisted living facility in Illinois. She died on Nov. 11. But her name was evoked, and will be evoked every year from here on, at the AAUW’s monthly meeting last Saturday, when the organization founded a scholarship in her name.
“She was a tireless supporter of scholarship activities in Flagler County,” Elinor Bozzone, scholarship chairman for AAUW, said. “To honor her, we have decided to create the Mary Ann Clark Scholarship. The goal is specifically, aside from the funds we have raised for our scholarship activities, to raise another $1,000 this year, in a short time frame, so we can award it in May. We’ll award it whether we’ve raised that thousand dollars or not, but we’re well on our way to raising it.” More than half the amount was raised Saturday. “My goal is to perpetuate it, going forward.”
The scholarship will be awarded along the same criteria as all other AAUW scholarships–to a young woman, to a Flagler resident, to a student in good standing. Other scholarships send students to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders or to TechTrack, the middle school STEM camps at Stetson University or at Florida Atlantic University. And many scholarships just supplement students’ financial aid, among them a relatively new one Bozzone started to support students interested in the arts.
“I invented the arts grant in protest of all the STEM money,” Bozzone said, “and we’ve been doing that for five years. That’s also for middle school students.” (Saturday’s meeting of the organization featured a quartet of the Flagler Youth Orchestra, whose musicians have appeared there regularly over the years, as they do before many other civic organizations: FYO members have also benefited from AAUW scholarships.)
Speaking to the membership Saturday, Bozzone called Clark “a force of nature,” tying the new scholarship to Clark’s “extraordinary commitment to virtually everything she undertook, and specifically to education and scholarships for young women.”
“It wasn’t just AAUW. She had her hands in everything,” past AAUW President and current publicity chair Kimble Medley said. “She was the type of woman who if she came up to you and asked you to do something, you did not tell her no.” It’s how she got things done.
Clark was married and had three children before she decided to finish her college education. She’d married between her sophomore and junior year, got pregnant, quit school and had the children. As she described it in an oral history for the Flagler Historical Society, she then “went to a convention and I heard this woman talking about education. She said that you should go back to school, and so I did. It was a family venture, my husband and three kids all worked hard to get mother through school.”
She earned her degree, taught at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for her first job, was an executive secretary for 10 years, then started her teaching career (for $6,000 a year): education in one way or another was always at the forefront of her life. When she wasn’t teaching, she was leading: she was either a founding member or a recurring member of innumerable organizations, including the Flagler County Education Foundation, the Flagler Auditorium board, the Flagler County Historical Society, the Flagler County League of Women Voters, the AAUW, the Flagler Woman’s Club, the Turtle Patrol, the Flagler County Library, Friends of the Library, Flagler Reads Together. Several of those organizations had scholarship funds.
Donations to the Mary Ann Clark Scholarship Fund may be sent to AAUW Flagler Branch, P.O. Box 354873, Palm Coast, FL 32135-4873.