Clark Lyle Whitmore
We lost a father, son, brother, and friend November 12, 2020, of sudden heart failure, in Goleta, California. Clark Lyle Whitmore was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on December 31, 1953, as the fourth of seven children to Elizabeth and Harley Whitmore.
The family moved to Hawaii in 1963 where his father took a new position with NCR Corporation. It was there that Clark had his first surfing experience, getting a surfing lesson at Waikiki from none other than Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic Multiple Gold Medalist in swimming and father of modern surfing. The family moved back to Santa Barbara in 1966. He attended La Colina Junior High, and San Marcos High School, Class of 1972. He graduated twice from UCSB, with a degree in Environmental Studies in 1976 and Mechanical Engineering in 1981. Perhaps influenced by “The Duke,” Clark became an excellent swimmer and water polo player. He played for the Gaucho Water Polo team in the early seventies, where the team earned a 6th national ranking.
In 1976, he got a job as a roustabout for ARCO. That experience prompted him to further his engineering education, at SBCC and then UCSB. As a mechanical engineer Clark worked for local aerospace companies including Delco, Santa Barbara Research Center, Santa Barbara Remote Sensing, and AEC-Able Engineering. He worked on the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (Landsat), MODIS (Earth Observing System) and VIIRS (JPSS NOAA) instruments which are still in orbit gathering data about our planet. He also worked at AEC-Able on the deployable mast for the solar array for the International Space Station. In 1996, he bought Ideal Machining, a machine shop in Old Town Goleta. He learned on his own the skills needed to become a good machinist. That included resurrecting an early model Bridgeport CNC milling machine for which he wrote machine code on a salvaged computer. From the time he bought Ideal Machining until his death, he produced many fine parts for BEI and other local companies.
Clark met Karen Ansberry in 1979, and they married in 1981. They had two wonderful children; Madison Whitmore, who is currently the Deputy DA for Santa Barbara County in Santa Maria, and Glen Whitmore, who also got a degree in mechanical engineering (UCI) and currently works for a startup company in the Bay area. Clark was extremely proud of their accomplishments.
Clark loved surfing and the ocean. After moving back to Santa Barbara from Hawaii, he had many good sessions up and down the Central Coast at spots like C Street, Rincon, Campus Point, Devereux, Naples, El Cap, and Jalama, as well as some great surfing adventures back to Hawaii. His last board was a thruster he shaped and glassed himself.
Golf was another one of Clark’s passions. He was a member of the Sandpiper Men’s Club for over 30 years and was quite a good player. He got his handicap as low as 5 while playing Sandpiper and the other local public courses: La Purisima, Glen Annie, Rancho San Marcos, and SB Muni. He was also a member of the Santa Barbara Research Center (now Raytheon) Golf League from 1984 to the present. He would always play Sandpiper on his birthday, New Year’s Eve, with his friends. On one of those wonderful birthday rounds in the 1990s, he aced the 11th hole, using a 6 iron from 185 yards. Contrary to the urging of his friends to keep the ball as a special memento, he kept playing it but, alas, lost it over the cliff on the 13th hole! Clark loved Caddyshack and when he wore his bucket hat, he looked a lot like Carl Spackler. If it were ever raining when we were playing golf, no matter how hard, he’d always quote Carl: “I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while.”
Clark always said have a backup plan, and his Plan B is surfing among the clouds with the “dudes” from Del Playa and playing his weekly golf games with his friends of 40 years.
Clark is survived by his daughter Madison Whitmore, son Glen Whitmore, brothers Jim Whitmore, JB Whitmore and Phil Whitmore, and mother Elizabeth Whitmore.
No memorial services are planned now, but on New Year’s Eve, raise a glass, play a round, or catch a wave for our friend and colleague. Clark you are missed.