Fiddler passionate about music, lifetime education

By Tony Parra

Give Ted Allen Clark a fiddle and he’d spin a delightful tune. Give him seven children and he’d share with them the importance of work ethic and education.
Clark had seven children, was a member of the Old Time Fiddler’s Hall of Fame and a former Roosevelt County resident. He died on Jan. 30 in Central, Ariz. He was 89.
“He was a strong disciplinarian and he was a caring person,” his son Tom Clark said.
Tom said his father stressed the importance of receiving an education, and once offered a reward if his children could answer a question out of the encyclopedia.
“We wanted a television when they were first coming out,” Tom said. “He said, ‘When you kids answer a question correctly from the encyclopedia then you can get a T.V.’ That was his feeling on education.”
Ted also encouraged his children to participate in school activities.
“We were in ag, basketball and I played baseball whenever we had a team,” Mike Clark, his son, said. “We helped with work when it needed to be done. There was a time we missed school to do farm work, but it was not very often, maybe two or three days out of the year.”
He had a passion for fiddling since he picked him his first fiddle at the age of 8. And he just didn’t do it for fun. He was competitive about it.
“He paid for it (fiddle) when he was 10 years old,” Tom said. “He taught himself how to play it.”
Tom said that his father also enjoyed fishing, deer and bear hunting.
“He was a good story teller,” Tom said. “He told us the story about the time when he killed a bear in California.”
Ted attended Old Time Fiddling contests and was the New Mexico state champion in 1980, the Arizona State champion in 1984 and was inducted into the New Mexico Old Time Fiddler’s Hall of Fame in 1994.
Mike and Tom said their father even traveled to Weiser, Idaho, to compete in the national competition.
Ted and some of his friends from Causey, a town 30 miles southeast of Portales, got together and formed a band called The Border Bandits.
“We had some good times together playing, locally,” Howell Merrick, who played the guitar for the group, said. “He went to many contests and he was well-known among the middle circles.”
Merrick said Ted also played the banjo for the band.
Ted married his first wife, Mamie Fraze, in 1935 and continued his college at New Mexico State University, where he obtained his degree. Tom said he needed to go back to school at NMSU to be able to teach the vocational agriculture department at Dora.
Ted not only came back to teach agriculture, but he was instrumental in having the Works Progress Administration of New Mexico construct a building for the class, Tom said.
He also taught English and music, but a farm deprived of rain, forced Ted to sell his land and move to Gonzales, Texas.
“He enjoyed watching sports and he always liked visiting with people,” Mike said. “He enjoyed being around other people.”
Ted spent a five-year stint in Northern California after living in Gonzales for nine years. Ted moved back to Roosevelt County where he farmed until he sold the farm to Tom and Mike in 1977.
Ted graduated from Rogers High School in 1932, and from West Texas State University in Canyon in 1935. He worked as a school teacher in Dora, where he started the ag shop and became the ag school teacher.
“He was just a good man,” Merrick said. “He was his own person. He walked and marched to his own music. He loved his music.”