UTICA-ROME -- Former WIBX board operator R. Clark Witt, IV, passed away on Sunday, following a long illness. He was 32 years old. Writing obituaries is never pleasant -- but this one is especially tough for your editor -- we were co-workers at Regent Broadcasting from 1999 until about 2002-ish, when Clark graduated from Utica College and gradually moved towards a career outside of radio.
Even though Clark was "only" a part-time employee at Regent, he was around so much you'd think he was a full-timer. Everyone knew his humorous personality and his willingness to be a team player. Even though he worked primarily with WIBX -- a big fan of SportsWatch and a good friend with former hosts Brad Davies and Brent Axe -- Clark got along well with the staffs of, and handled assignments with, every other station in cluster at one point or another. Whether it be assisting with Car Cruz-Ins for Oldiez 96 (WODZ), running the Lite 98.7 (WLZW) board during a Children's Miracle Network Radiothon or running one of the weekend countdown shows on Big Frog 104 (WFRG), back when they were aired right off CD and local spots had to be manually fired in between segments. If memory serves right, Clark also spent many an evening running the board during Yankees games on WRUN, when Regent used to own the station.
Clark would often call in on the request lines, posing as a listener, but telling wacky stories or jokes that made it very difficult to go on the air mere moments later without cracking up live -- even for jocks who had plenty of experience behind the mic.
Just as notable as his humorous side, was Clark's intellectual side -- often getting very animated when he spoke of world politics. During his years at UC, Clark gained such a great knowledge and appreciation for global current events, I must admit there were many times when all I could do is stare and nod, doing my best just to pretend I was keeping up with all the different names and countries he was talking about. He spoke so passionately about what he knew, some co-workers and I predicted he'd someday land a job at the United Nations or some high-ranking federal government position dealing with foreign relations. We'll never know if his job at a Clinton law firm could have eventually led to one of those lofty positions.
Learning of Clark's death this evening from another former co-worker was quite a shock -- neither of us were even aware that he had been battling illness. The co-worker who alerted me had spotted Clark's obituary in the Utica Observer-Dispatch by mere chance, while skimming through the paper.
Clark is survived by his wife, his parents, a brother, and several extended family members. Calling hours will be held tomorrow from 2-5pm and Thursday from 4-7pm at the Dimbleby, Friedel, Williams & Edmunds Funeral Home, 365 Main Street, West Winfield (Google Map). The funeral home has also provided a webpage where memorial messages can be posted for the family.