In Memory

Marie O. Clarke (Teacher)

Marie O. Clarke (Teacher)

Mrs. Marie O. Clarke

Watertown __Mrs. Marie O. Clarke, 88, of Watertown, a retired math teacher and former resident of Batavia, died Tuesday, July 29, 1997, at Samaritan Medical Center. She had been a resident of Samaritan - Keep Home since January of 1994.

Mrs. Clarke was born March 20, 1908, in Bellows Falls, VT., a daughter of the late Peter and Anna McDonald Ottersland.

She and her family moved to Watertown when she was a child. She graduated from Watertown High School in 1925 and from St. Lawrence University in Canton in 1929. She was a high school math teacher in Moira, Potsdam, and Batavia, retiriing in 1969. She was a communicant of Holy Family Church and a member of Delta Kappa Gamma sorority.

In 1939 she married Ambrose R. Clarke, also a math teacher and chairman of the math departments of Potsdam and Batavia High School prior to his death in 1973.

Surviving are a sister, Alice O. Cooper of Watertown, a niece, and a nephew.

She was a sister of Thor Ottersland, who died in 1985.

A prayer service at 8:30 this morning at the D.I. Calarco funeral home, Watertown, was followed by a funeral mass at 9:00 am at Holy Family Church. Burial will be in Glenwood Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Samaritan - Keep Home Activities Fund.

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02/22/11 11:30 AM #1    

Jim Minor

Mrs. Clarke was probably no one's favorite teacher. She could be very intimidating. She was autocratic. She could be idiosyncratic ("Ask your folks if you can stay up past 9 (!) tonight because the Mikado is going to be on TV and it's a wonderful show which Mr. Clarke and I highly recommend although I'm not so sure about Groucho Marx playing the lead."). Nevertheless, that woman was born to teach Geometry.

She approached teaching the subject like a master sergeant approaches a bunch of new recruits. She taught Euclidian geometry as a complete logical construct starting from the basics of the 3 undefined entities: point, line, and plane. On that alone she showed how to proceed, proving things through: The Hypothesis, The Given, and then the list of paired statements-and-reasons resulting in the proved hypothesis always ending with the last line Q.E.D (Quid Est Demonstratum... what was to be proved is proven). She drilled us over and over in each "required" (by NYS) hypothesis progressing to ever more powerful statements about the logically complete framework of her subject. Personally I'd never before and never since been exposed to such concepts so complete unto themselves. In later years I could only shudder at the imbecility of newer methods of teaching that sought to break this up piecemeal, taught here and there over the course of several years.

The year that I and many other of our classmates took the Geometry regents the Diocese of Buffalo subsequently sought to have the results thrown out because something like 60% of their students failed it. No one in Mrs. Clarke's class failed, her class average was considerably above the state's and two of her students got 100 on the test.

As Barabara's and my two children went to school, I often thought that if I could send them back through time to BHS and have them take just one course, it would undoubtedly have been Mrs. Clarke's Geometry class. Thank you, Mrs. Clarke for the discipline, rigor and ultimately the appreciation, to me anyway, that you instilled in that subject... Q.E.D.

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