Dr. Lawrence M. Clark, was a proud native of Danville, Virginia. His family roots were planted at Cherrystone Plantation in Pittsylvania County, a few miles from the property where Beacon Ridge Retreat Center sits. He credits the love and support of family and the standards of excellence of his teachers at Langston High School for enabling his success. His life was devoted to education. With a doctoral degree in Mathematics from the University of Virginia, Dr. Clark helped to improve lives through education. He served as a mathematics professor prior to becoming associate provost at North Carolina State University. He held this post for over 30 years and was credited for helping students and faculty achieve extraordinary goals.
Dr. Clark married the love of his life, Irene Reynolds Clark in 1960. She, too, was an educator. Mrs. Clark received a Master’s degree from University of Virginia and served as a biology professor at several institutions including Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina. To this day, students credit Mrs. Clark for helping to advance their careers in medicine, research, engineering, and education. She continues to foster community-based programs including STEM camps for young students. She is also known as the resident historical expert for the Saint Agnes School for Colored Nurses, a former training school for nurses and physicians at Saint Augustine’s University. Her research with Saint Agnes also led to her ground-breaking research on eugenics which led to her being featured in the PBS documentary entitled “The State of Eugenics.”
Dr. and Mrs. Clark shared a love and passion for historical research. They both understood the importance of shaping self-identity by knowing one’s history. They also knew that as a society and as a community the following adage is true: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
A Vision Comes Forth
In 1980, Dr. Lawrence M. Clark had a vision and embarked on bringing this vision into fruition. He decided to build a venue that would support the growth of the DanRiver community. This venue was designed to host leadership training, STEM camps, day retreats for organizations, and community events. He and Mrs. Clark started building Beacon Ridge Retreat Center, self-financed the project, and their entire family (immediate and extended) provided countless hours of sweat equity. The Center opened officially in 1995 and has been serving the community ever since. It continues to be a beacon of hope, education, family, and community.