Our One Year Mark- My Husband's great Legacy
Following His Father's
Today is the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death. Remarkably I am filled with much gratitude and hope today. Gratitude for the wonderful man that I am sealed to for time and all eternity and for the wonderful husband and father he was for 20 wonderful years.
Scott was supremely generous with his means, his time, and his love. He was following and living up to the example of his father, grandfather and the Savior. I am constantly reminding my children of the wonderful legacy their father left for them to follow. I hope that his example can motivate you to be a little kinder, to reach out to lift others, and to love each other and the Lord a little better. I know that it has done that for me.
Scott was firm in his faith and always committed to the morals and principles he believed in. He did not let the common crowd sway him from his resolve. He stood up for and championed those principles. He believed in honesty, hard work, and morality. He rewarded and encouraged others to adopt those same principles.
He believed in complete love, devotion, and fidelity in family life. He loved us more than he did himself. Everything he did was to try to make things better for us and to show us how much we meant to him. We saw that by how hard he worked to provide for us, in the things he said to us and to others about us, and how he devoted his free time to being with us. We will never doubt how much we are loved by him.
I have had many people this year say to me, “I just don’t see why someone like your husband needed to be taken. He was doing so much good here.” I want to respond to that question, because I clearly know the answer. Scott was doing great good here and because of that, his death has made more of an impact for good on others than his life ever would. I know that Scott and I chose this path for our life before we ever even came here. I know that we agreed to God’s plan, we were not forced into it, and I believe that we did it because of the good and the help this experience would be to so many people. We decided that our little hurt would be a small price to pay for the good that would be done and the hearts that would be healed. So don’t let our separation and pain be for naught. Internalized what you have learned from him and our family and let it change you. Let it make you into a better person, let it drawn you nearer to Christ, let it help you learn how to love a little better.
Below I have included some of my favorites parts from the talks given at both his funeral and their joint funeral in Omaha. (Including the talk that I gave in Omaha) Even though many of you attended, I wanted to share them again because it is easy to forget. On December 19th (our 21st wedding anniversary I will be posting our story along with the words and song preformed by my oldest son, Alex at the funeral. Check back for that.) I am also including a link to the legacy book I made for all of my children with the stories sent to me from friends, patients, and co-workers. There are also lots of family pictures. There are some great stories in there so feel free to browse that as well. ( Still working on that link.)
Excepts from the funeral:
I couldn’t turn this over to anyone else.Scott and I grew up in Omaha, but it’s been 20 years since we’ve been here. Many of you may know Scott as a little child and as a teenager, and most of you know Patrick and Scott’s brothers. It is my intention to paint a picture of the man that Scott had become. My sisters helped me sort through many emails that have flooded to our home from patients, friends, and acquaintances, and I have been reading from Scott’s recent journal entries. We had compiled a list of things we wanted to include, but it was kind of a collection of disjointed character traits, and it was late, and I just couldn’t get my head around it. I couldn’t figure out how to make it all fit together. It was about one in the morning, and I decided I was going to go to bed and see if I could sleep. As I laid there in the dark, the words came so clearly into my head, “it has to be more on Christ. Make it more about my Savior.” So as I talked with my sisters the next day, this is the end result of what I feel he would want me to say.
Scott had a great love for God and the Savior. His faith was not difficult to detect because it was central to his life. In Scott’s journal entry, he said, “the scripture I feel brings me the most comfort is in the Book of Mormon in Moroni (It is the scripture he had me memorize when we first got married.) ‘And Christ had said, if ye have faith in me, ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.’ This scripture has always brought me great comfort throughout the years”—these are his words. “No matter what task I have tackled in my life, I have always received a great deal of comfort and confidence in knowing I will have the power to do whatsoever the Lord wants me to do.” And he taught me that as well. And Scott knew what the Lord wanted him to do. He spent his life emulating the life of the Savior. James E. Faust, a modern-day apostle, said, “those who have the light of Christ in their lives have their presence become as a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy.” Of those who worked most closely with Scott the underlying theme of their memories of him revolve around his cheerful demeanor and contagious smile. The source of that happiness can only be found in his love of the Savior and desire to be like him. The Savior posed the question, “therefore, what manner of man ought ye to be? Verily, I say unto you, ‘even as I am.’” Scott tried to emulate the Savior in all that he did. The evidence of this is shown through his compassionate service and charitable love towards all around him.
When Christ was on the earth, he went to those who were suffering and wanted to ease their pain. In the Book of Mormon, we learn about the Savior’s visit to the ancient American people after his death and resurrection. As He taught them, he looked upon the multitude, and He beheld that they were in tears, and they looked steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. He said unto them, “Behold my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have you any sick among you? Bring them hither and I will heal them for I have compassion upon you. My bowels are filled with mercy.” Scott carried this same desire as he treated his patients, especially those terminally ill whose last days on earth were eased by Scott’s devotion to treating their pain. He entered the field of medicine for this very reason—to heal and help others.
One night when we were walking in our old neighborhood, we saw our neighbors outside and began to converse with them and found that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just the week before. My husband trained at Mayo Medical Clinic and was very familiar with a procedure to block the pain from the pancreas, something that a lot of people don’t know about. He scheduled that injection in three days. By the time our neighbor got there, he was in a lot of pain, but that fixed the pain, and he was able to spend much more quality time with his family. But more than that, Scott stopped at their house every night after work to hold his hand. On the night he passed, we got a call and Scott drove over and stayed with them while their father departed from this earth.
All of his patients remember that he didn’t just treat their physical pain but he eased their anxiety by telling stories about me and our children. When a patient asked, “is this going to hurt?” Scott loved to reply, “it won’t hurt me a bit.” One patient remembered, “during a series of shots, I quit taking the sedative so I could remain awake as chatting with him was so much fun I barely noticed he was sticking me with needles in the back.” Another said, “the injections were made easier as he came through with an interesting story about his boys.” Another remembered, “he was so compassionate, not only with his patients but with everyone around him.”
Scott was also so gracious and grateful. He always told his staff….this is a quote from one of his staff members, “he always told his staff ‘thank you for your help today’ before he left. It was always said with genuine emotion. It seems like a small sentiment but something seldom spoken by a physician to staff. It’s the little things that often mean the most.”
After teaching the parable of the good Samaritan, the Savior simply said, “Go and do thou likewise.” Scott did not pass by an opportunity to help others. He thought it a privilege and a way to show his love for the Savior. In Mosiah, it says, “and behold, I tell ye these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” When Scott attended his grandfather’s funeral in April, he was so inspired by a story told there that he came home and told me about it. And he came to this great realization, and he had the ability to really change people’s lives through small and simple things. And I saw this big change in him. He was so anxious to make a difference. He would come home with a new idea about how he could inspire a father in our ward, or how he could get a young woman to increase her self-esteem. Scott knew that all of his blessings came from God, and, for that reason, he was determined to bless others with what he had been given. Here is an example from one of the families in our ward: “Scott was an amazing home teacher. He came to our house with the kids and trimmed the trees, breaking a couple of chains on the saw along the way. He was not asked to do it, but say the need and just did it.” Here are two quotes from some youth. “Scott was like a second father to me. He taught me that I was so important and special, and I deserved to be treated like a princess. I loved seeing how he interacted with both his wife and children. I want my husband to be just like him.” “I loved working with him. Whenever I was around him, I could feel the spirit so strongly. I loved when I was invited to dinner with your family, and he even included me in your family scripture study. He taught me and helped strengthen my testimony of the scriptures and of daily study. Brother Clarke wanted everyone to be their best.” This is only a small portion of the service Scott administered because often require that the recipient remain anonymous about his involvement. He knew that true reward in giving service to others was not in receiving worldly praise and recognition, it was in the joy that comes from knowing that we are serving God as we serve others.
“Charity is the pure love of Christ and it endureth forever, and whosoever is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” The Savior emphasized love and unity and declared that we would be known as His disciples if we have love one to another. Perhaps Scott’s greatest legacy was in showing this kind of love to our family. He truly loved us and wisely used his time on earth to demonstrate it. As he watched his grandfather care for his grandmother in her final years, he told me he had learned it is a privilege to take care of the people you love, and that showed in the way he treated us. His friends remember, “Scott was one of those rare men that wore his love for his wife on his sleeve. Not only did he never speak ill of her, but I only ever heard him sing her praises. Whenever he taught lessons in church about marriage and family, he would tear up and testify about how much he loved his wife and children.” Scott made sure that we reserved time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and other precious family activities that brought our family together and fixed our children’s values on things of eternity. He taught my children gospel priorities by bearing testimony to them. Scott had a strong testimony that families can be together forever through the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. In a journal entry, he wrote, “I’ve been thinking of the things I’m thankful for. I’ve been impressed with how fortunate and blessed I am to have such a wonderful wife and great children. Of all the blessings I have, I am most grateful for my family and the fact that Veronica and I were sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. Each of my children is such a blessing in my life. They each have such strong and bright spirits. Of all the friends that I have, I am happiest by far when I am with my wife and kids.”
The Savior asked, “wherefore, what manner of man ought ye to be? Behold, I say unto you, even as I.” Scott would want us to remember him as a man who used his time on earth to emulate his Savior. His friend recalled a tender experience, “when I was in a rough patch in my life, I asked Scott about pain management of an aching heart. His reply was, ‘I’m afraid I can’t help you with that, but I know a man that could.” He was speaking of Jesus Christ.
Truly the Savior can heal our aching hearts, and I have felt the Savior’s encircling arms around me and my children in our hour of trial. His love and our faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is a buoy that lifts and strengthens us. I know my husband loved me, and that he still loves me. The sealing covenants of the temple bind and hold our family together forever, even in death. I know that if I live worthily and keep those covenants, that we will be together as a family forever. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
SELECTIONS FROM MY DAD’s TALK (EVAN CONNELL)
“Scott was aware of the enormous gifts that were given to him, and quoted the prophets saying… many times I heard him say, “ Where much is given, much is required.” Scott had a rare gift, the gift of intellect. Brought about upon just the right mix of genetic materials that come along rarely. Things came easy to him. Because of this he was able to accomplish in his short lifetime more than most men do in a normal life span. He had left undone except to relax and enjoy all that he had accomplished. Spiritually Scott was ready. He was as ready as any man I know. Professionally he had graduated from the top medical school in the world and asked to stay on and do residency at the same institution. He was a pioneer in procedures that decreased the time for treatment and as a surgeon I can tell you that nearly always less time means less pain. He was the top producer for the hospital system he worked for and I’m sure those of you who are here from his clinic, from his hospital, know he will be missed.
The one thing about Scott was that he got by with about 1/3 the sleep that anyone else does. I always thought he was exaggerating until I stayed around him for a week or two at a time and realized that he really did only sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. That leaves a lot of extra time to accomplish a lot of extra things. He was able to get his work done and then he spent every waking moment with his family when not working. When running errands instead of using the time for some peace and quiet as sometimes I admit I have done, I always observed him with a child or two. He was in the final stages of building a car from the ground up with his three boys. He understood the eternal nature of the family, and almost as if he knew he was on short duty, he used his time to foster better and stronger family relations. Rarely have I met a man with the capacity to work and to achieve as much as Scott. I do know enough about human nature to know that good genes don’t make you a good worker. Somewhere along the line he was taught a good work ethic, and to that, I think we have his dear mother, Lana, who is here with us, who has a double broken heart because of the loss of a husband and a son. I can only imagine the hurt that must course through your body. But while I was going through his papers to help sort out his finances, I ran across a sweet note from mother. It came with a poem. The poem was a favorite of Scott’s maternal grandparents, whom Scott adored. The poem is about what it takes to succeed in life, and I suspect is the Clarke’s anthem. A poem telling us that those people who succeed are equipped generally with the same equipment as those who fail -Two eyes, two hands, two feet, and a brain. The last line of the poem says, “Get up my lad and say “I can’ “
In every walk of life, Scott had a ‘can do spirit. To this we must ascribe his remarkable accomplishments, but when it can to the most important spiritual aspects of Scott’s life he had a ‘father I will attitude.’ Father I will serve a mission when others are going to college. Father I will pray for guidance when choosing a wife. Father in Heaven I will do my best to keep your commandments. Father I will welcome new little ones in our home and teach them about thee. Father, I will be generous with my time and Father I will be a follower of Christ and be proud to be called a Christian. Now under all else, I lay my testimony that Scott and Pat are living and will be resurrected in two perfect bodies. I testify that there has been a restoration of all things, including a living prophet. I testify that God is our father and he still loves us. I testify to you that Jesus is the Christ and the only name upon which men are saved. I testify that families can be forever and that this is our Heavenly Father’s plan. I testify to this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
FROM HIS SON ALEX:
” At the end of my dad’s favorite song, “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” you find out that the man who is helped is the Savior. Everything that has been done has been done to the Savior. And that’s exactly how my dad was, you know. Everything he did was to help somebody. “
FROM HIS BROTHER TODD:
“My nephew Cooper talked briefly of my brother Scott, who was a brilliant man. He had a hunger and a thirst for knowledge, which I’ve never seen before. In school the teachers noticed this rather quickly and talked to my parents about having Scott skip a grade, or two, so that they could keep him busy and challenged in school. Probably more for me than for him, Dad wouldn’t let him skip. So, starting when I was in fourth grade and Scott was in second, he was still technically in second grade, but attended fourth grade with me. We’d sit side by side, especially in math and science. I would come home with disappointing scores. Scott was brilliant.
A few years back, I spoke at a Millard Hall of Fame Banquet and concluded my speech, and I was meeting with people, mingling afterward, and a retired, elderly teacher came up to me. She had both Scott and I in high school and probably my brother and sister as well. After we exchanged greetings, she took pause and kind of tilted back and kind of squinted her eyes a little bit and said, “are you the smart brother?” I’m so proud to be the dumb one. Scott finally skipped a grade and has moved on, and I know he is preparing a spot for Roni, the boys, and Rachel. I am thankful to be the dumb brother. “
FROM HIS BROTHER ERIC:
“As I look back and think of my brother Scott, he was beautiful. He was kind, and he was loving, and he was caring. I see so much of that in his kids.
Every year when I get my season tickets, I’d email Scott or I’d give him a call and say, “Scott, pick a game, any game, just tell me when you want to come up, and we’ll go see the Huskers together.” It was always an exciting deal, and we’d go and do that together. He would usually reciprocate by inviting me to racing with he and my dad. I never took him up on it, but he always took me up on the Husker tickets. This year, he said, “I’m going racing with Dad, but we’ll go to the Minnesota game together.” [NOTE: that game was the day of the funeral.]
Several months ago, Scott and I took a trip to St. George Utah, which is not an easy place to get to, to see our dying grandfather. When we went to see Grandpa, Grandpa said, “I’m so glad to see you boys. I’m glad to see my doctor’s here.” And I said, “he might be your doctor, but he’s my pilot.” We had a wonderful trip together with lots of funny and crazy experiences getting in that darn little plane together and heading out there. It was an experience like no other, one that I was always grateful to Scott for because it gave me a chance to spend time with my grandfather. And now, looking back, what a great experience that was to spend three days together with my brother. We were so excited to spend time together. We landed late. We couldn’t find the dang airport. He had to call them and tell them to turn the lights on the runway, and I was nervous. We were so excited when we got there that we went to Denny’s, and we observed some fellow patrons order not one but two meals, and we just laughed and laughed about that. “
After learning of the accident, Eric purchased a ticket and flew out to the crash site. This is what he said about that experience…
“Upon arrival, I experienced one of those tender mercies of the Lord. I was met by two angels there in the form of my uncles. That Monday morning we drove to the crash site. As we left Fresno and drove up the mountain to the site of the accident, there was a strange peace that came. What a beautiful, gorgeous location that is.
As we were surrounded by these giant, giant Sequoia trees, we met the Forest Ranger, and we parked the car. We hiked about 200 yards to a beautiful, serene, peaceful setting, where the trees opened up into a small grove. It was covered with snow. It had snowed before the accident and hadn’t snowed since. It was white and peaceful. I know that was a tender mercy of the Lord. As we sifted through the ashes of the wreckage, I found the remains of my father’s phone. That was all I could find. I asked my dear Uncle Reese to offer a prayer at the site. And while he prayed, my mind went back to the phone conversation that I had with my dad before the Michigan game. I could hear my dad’s voice, “don’t worry. I’m okay. You can go on without me.” What a comfort that was. While he was here, my dad taught me where he was going. In that moment of great and utter despair, I felt their presence in that beautiful site.
I’m eternally grateful to have been raised by a father who lived by his example of service and a brother who spent his life caring for those in great pain. I testify that they have sent the Master Physician to serve us. Through the outpouring of love that we have received from each of you over this past week, we will make it. Although I do not understand the timing of what happened, I have come to accept it on faith that the Lord of the whole universe does know why. What great blessings we have received as a result. We have so much to be grateful for. The grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. Because of the life and sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ, we will be united again with those that we cherish most. Of this I testify and do so in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.”