Loving Clark Lake and having a big impact on it sometimes go hand-in-hand.  In the life of Tom Collins, the two were solidly united.  What may be long remembered about Tom Collins was his spirit and what that meant to those around him.  It permeated everything and place he touched.

Tom Collins was known as a guiding spirit of Clark Lake’s Spirit Trail.  In fact for him, the word “spirit” was as important as the trail itself.  He unpacked the word spirit–with each letter standing for an important part of this project and the many others that he found himself part of.  “S” stood for service to the extended community; “P” preservation and promotion of our heritage; “I” involvement in activities events and projects; “R” respect for the water, land and one another; “I” improvement in the quality of life; and “T” teamwork with others in the area.

Indeed, that same spirit provided a wonderful animus for other activities that he loved and supported—such as the Crab Races, Run Clark Lake, Ted Ligibel’s Clark Lake, Images of a Tradition, and the Water over the Dam Golf Outing.  Today, as a testament to Tom’s importance to Clark Lake, you will find a granite monument along the Spirit Trail in the County Park.

View of a memorabilia display at the Beach Bar.  Included is a photo of Tom Collins running competitively.

View of a memorabilia display at the Beach Bar. Included is a photo of Tom Collins running competitively.

What would Clark Lake be without the Beach Bar?  Here’s a restaurant that embodies the heart and soul of the community.  Tom Collins was the second generation of his family-owned business to manage and further the Beach Bar’s growth.  Along with his wife, Peggy, they provided a place full of warmth that anchored itself to Clark Lake culture.  Just looking at the displays of memorabilia confirm this indelible link to the Lake. Anyone who has been part of a small business knows the challenges that are faced.  Tom and his family not only faced the challenges but expanded and enhanced their business.

There perhaps is never a good time to leave.  And Tom left us too early.  Perhaps a poem that was part of the memorial service for Tom Collins expresses the gentle idea that it may not be how-long but the good that filled his life while he was with us.

I took a walk down the pier today
accompanied by a dear old friend
and looked out across the lake
as the day came to its end

While water splashed up by my feet
and the sun set in my eyes
I dreamt about tomorrow and
pondered days gone by

Laughter echoing over the waves
was proof good pals were near
and the thought of how I’d miss them
was my one and only fear

A gentle breeze blew over me
carrying visions to my head
of Spirit rides and new trails we’d blaze
and days that would lie ahead

As the sun slipped behind her edge
and night fell on Clark Lake’s shore
I was thankful for my time spent here
I couldn’t have asked for more.

C.L.C. ‘97