【February 2020 No.406】Elizabeth J. Clarke: In Memoriam

All those who knew Elizabeth Clarke will always cherish the memory of her bright smile and enthusiastic energy for the mission of the Church in Japan. By this, combined with her sharp wit and deep intellectual insights, she left a legacy of commitment to the high calling of Christian witness and service in Japan that extended to other Asian nations as well as to North America.


As the daughter of a Methodist minister, it was natural for Elizabeth at all times to have her base in the church wherever she served. Conversations always led to deep concerns for the struggles of the church in Japan and the wider context of inter-church relations with overseas partner churches.


Perhaps she will be remembered mostly for her role in promoting and developing the vital role of Christian education, especially the importance of higher education, for women in Japan. From her earliest assignment as a member of the first group of J-3 (Japan, 3 years) short-term missionaries in 1948, she served both as a teacher as well as administrator, first in Fukuoka Jogakuin Girls School, and later at Kwassui Girls School in Nagasaki, with her longest assignment to Aoyama Gakuin Junior College for Women in Tokyo.


Having served as a high school teacher in her native Wisconsin before arriving in Japan, as well as doing further graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University Teachers College, she was well qualified both as a faculty member and scholar to make a major contribution to the study and understanding of the history and unique role of Christian education for women in Japan.


After leaving Japan in 1993, Elizabeth enjoyed her life at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California as an active member of the retirement community, many of whom had also served in Japan. During these years, her concern for the work of the church in Japan as well as in the Claremont community continued to be a vital part of her life, serving as a model for all who were fortunate to know her personally, as well as for those who will be influenced by her legacy.


Elizabeth Jane Clarke

 Born Sept. 23, 1924, in Richland Center, Wisconsin

 Served various roles in Japan from 1948 to 1993

 Passed away on Dec. 7, 2019, at Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California

 Memorial Service on Jan. 11, 2020, at Claremont United Methodist Church

—George W. Gish, Jr., retired missionary















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