Ryan Christopher Clark

Age: 22

Class: Senior

Major: Psychology/Biology/English

Hometown: Martinez, GA (born in Landstuhl, West Germany)

High School: Lakeside (Evans, GA) - Class of 2002

Died in West Ambler Johnson Hall (student dorm) along with Emily Hilscher

(Ryan served as a Resident Advisor in West AJ)


Audio/Video Remembrances

Today Show Video Remembrance: "He was a ball of joy"

YouTube Video Remembrance: In memory of Ryan " Stack" Clark (by beaudeey)

Audio Remembrance From NPR (visit NPR's VT Remembrance Page to listen):

Denise Aspell on Her Friend Ryan Clark: ‘He Would Always Make You Smile’

Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues

Submit your personal remembrance for posting here (please include your name and relationship).

Remembering Ryan 'Stack' Clark at Facebook

Newspaper Remembrance Stories

"Above and Beyond Helping People"
(Roanoke Times Profile)

Virginia Tech senior Ryan Clark, one of the first victims in Monday’s shooting, exemplified Virginia Tech’s motto "That I May Serve," according to his family, friends and co-workers.

"He was an extraordinary individual. He went above and beyond helping people," said John Barrett, unit manager at the West End Market, a campus dining hall where Clark once worked.

Fellow students speculated in online tributes that Clark, a resident advisor on the fourth floor of the West Ambler Johnston co-ed dormitory where the rampage started, may have been shot when he confronted a gunman who shot Emily Hilscher, who lived next door to Clark.

Clark, 22, a senior from Martinez, Ga., and a member of Virginia Tech’s marching band, was a triple major in psychology, biology and English with a 4.0 grade point average, his family said. He planned to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology with a focus in cognitive neuroscience.

Vernon Collins, the Columbia County, Ga., coroner, said Clark’s mother, Letitie, was in shock when he and a deputy sheriff notified his family at their home.

"It was just a horrible moment," Collins said. "I had to assure her it was real."

Clark’s twin brother, Bryan, said he started to worry when he watched the live news coverage.

"As I was watching the news they mentioned West A.J. where he’s a resident advisor. At that point, your heart just kind of drops out of you, and you begin to speculate and wonder," said Bryan Clark.

Ryan Clark, whose nickname was "Stack," played baritone and was a fifth-year member, the personnel officer and a former co-librarian of the Marching Virginians. He also was a member of Circle K, the student service organization.

Clark’s friends posted online tributes remembering him as honest, caring and energetic.

"He was a loved friend, mentor, and role model who will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the MVs [Marching Virginians] as a true example of The Spirit Of Tech," one commemoration said.

Clark worked for two years serving pizza in a campus dining hall, where co-workers described him as outgoing, caring and friendly.

"He always welcomed you with a smile," said Barrett, who was Clark’s supervisor. "He was one of those rare people. I’m still in shock. It’s hard to comprehend."

"He tried to cheer people up when they were having a bad day," said Marsha Dalton, whose daughters, Courtney and Beverly Dalton, worked with Clark.

— John Cramer (Roanoke Times, 4/18/07)

New York Times Profile:

Ryan Clark was known as Stack here on the rolling campus of Virginia Tech, an amiable senior memorable for his ready smile and thoughtful ways. He was also among the first victims of the deadliest school rampage in the nation's history.

A student resident adviser at West Ambler Johnston Hall, Mr. Clark was apparently rushing over to investigate what was going on when he came upon the gunman, according to a student who lives on the fourth floor, where the first shootings took place.

In the end, as the people here struggled to come to grip with the tragedy, it fell to Vernon W. Collins, the coroner in Mr. Clark's hometown in Columbia County, Ga., to deliver the news of his death to his mother

"She was in shock," Mr. Collins said. "It started out in disbelief. She was praying what I was telling her was wrong, and I felt the same way. I wished I didn't have to tell her that."

"It was horrible, you know, to walk up to somebody you don't know and tell them they've lost a loved one," he added. "It's the hardest part of my job."

Tall and thin, Mr. Clark, a resident of Augusta, Ga., was well-liked and a member of the university's marching band, the Marching Virginians, students in the dorm said.

The band's Web site has an image of him participating in a food drive and says that he enjoyed, among other things, "making t-shirts with his partner in crime, Kim Daniloski, and haggling with street vendors."

He also studied biology and English and had hoped to pursue a doctorate in psychology, with a focus on cognitive neuroscience.

Courtney Dalton, who met Mr. Clark two years ago when the two worked together at a campus restaurant, described him as helpful and a good listener. "When I was upset about something, he would come over and ask, 'Are you O.K.?'" she said. "If you ever needed to talk about your problems, he'd listen."

Ms. Dalton said that he stopped working at the restaurant shortly after they met but that he continued to stop by and visit. "I used to talk to him every day," she said. "He used to come in, get a drink, a pizza or a rotini and cheese."

Ms. Dalton said she was stunned by the news of his death and wondered how such a tragedy could befall a person as kind as Mr. Clark. "It's horrible, it's hitting us all pretty hard," she said.

Able to graduate, he chose to wait
USAToday Profile

Ryan Clark, 22, could have graduated from Virginia Tech in December. He decided to wait until May and continue as a resident adviser at West Ambler Johnston dormitory, where he was killed.

"He wanted to take more classes so that he could walk across the stage in May and his family could see him graduate," said Kizzi Rice, 23, one of Clark's best friends. She went to high school and summer camp with him.

Rice has been mourning at the Clark family house in Martinez, Ga., since Monday. She called Clark "a fabulous person" and "incredibly funny and witty."

Nicknamed "Stack," Clark played trumpet and was in the high school marching band and Virginia Tech's Marching Virginians.

Clark would have celebrated his 23rd birthday May 29 and for the eighth summer, he would have spent two weeks as music director for a camp for physically and mentally disabled adults and children.

"It was Ryan's favorite place in the whole world," said Rice, who has worked as a dance instructor at the same camp for nine years. Ryan's twin, Bryan, also spent summers there as a physical activity instructor.

"Ryan was loved by everyone, the campers, the parents and the staff," she said. Her first summer without him in years will be "incredibly tough."

Clark's father, Stan, was on his way to the family home to be with mother Letitie and Ryan's twin. The family decided not to go to Blacksburg.

"There's nothing that we can do up there," Rice said.

Washington Post Profile:

Ryan C. Clark's favorite place in the world was Camp Big Heart, a summer spot in Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Ga. Every summer for the past eight years, he spent two weeks at the camp for mentally impaired children, first as a volunteer counselor and, later, as music director.

"He was one of the kindest, most compassionate people I have ever known," said Mary Ellen Ipser, the camp's administrator. "He was also one of the funniest. He knew how to play, and the staff, parents, campers -- everybody -- adored him. He was the kind of the person who always kept you up. He'd put his arm around you and say, 'Come on, girl, I love you.' I am 71 years old, the administrator of the camp, and he didn't treat me any differently than the 18-year-olds."

Clark, 22, grew up in Martinez, Ga., and became interested in music when he was in sixth grade, his twin, Bryan, said yesterday. Bryan also worked at the camp each year as athletic director. The two weeks they spent sleeping in a cabin was when they reconnected as they got older and their lives diverged.

"He had degrees in psychology, biology and English," his brother said. "A brainiac. He planned to pursue a PhD in neuroscience. He wanted to work with the mentally impaired."

Ryan Clark was a resident adviser in the West Ambler Johnston dormitory, where he was killed Monday when he left his fourth-floor room to investigate a report of a dispute, friends said.

"I can tell you that he was the type of person that if there was a problem, and he was aware of it, he would always do his job," said Will Petersen, the assistant director of the Marching Virginians, the Tech band that Clark played with for four years. "And he was always willing to be the first person to put in a hand and help out."

He played the baritone in the band, a brass instrument that matched his brassy personality.

Bryan Clark said his family would try visit Virginia Tech two or three times a year, almost always on band family day.

Ipser said Ryan had told her recently that he was afraid that he was not going to be able to make it to Camp Big Heart this summer.

"He said he was getting a job and he might not be able to come," she said. "I think the job was pretty important to him, or he wouldn't have missed camp. All of the staff knew he might not come, and we've been sending him messages telling him what we were going to do with him if he didn't come, which seems kind of sad now."

On the band's Web site yesterday, there was a picture of Ryan Clark flashing a big smile and both hands forming a "V."

A message from his band mates said: "The Marching Virginians are deeply sorrowed by the loss of fellow MV and friend, Ryan "Stack" Clark. He was a loved friend, mentor, and role model who will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the MVs as a true example of The Spirit Of Tech. Stack, we thank you for all the memories, and for sharing with us your true love of life. We will love and miss you always."

-- Timothy Dwyer, The Washington Post

Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:

Ryan Clark, 22, was called “Stack” by his friends at Virginia Tech, which pretty much means that everyone the personable fifth-year senior met at the university ended up calling him that.

Among them was Mary Le, a junior psychology major who fondly remembers first meeting Mr. Clark. She was a freshman who had shown up at a community-services club meeting, feeling awkward in a room full of strangers.

“He was the first person to come up and introduce himself to me,” she says. “He could tell I didn’t know anyone, so he sat next to me the whole meeting and talked to me. It meant so much to me.”

“And he was like that with everyone,” she recalls.

Mr. Clark, who was scheduled to graduate in May, kept himself busy with school activities. He maintained a 4.0 grade-point average while majoring in both biology and English. He played baritone for the Marching Virginians, the university’s marching band, and also served as its personnel officer. He planned to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology.

Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Clark still found time to help others. During the summers he worked at a camp, counseling children and adults with special needs, and he spent his 2005 Thanksgiving vacation in New Orleans helping with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. At the time of his death he was a resident adviser at the West Ambler Johnston dormitory.

“He was always in leadership positions,” says Andrew D. Mager, a recent graduate who played with Mr. Clark in the band for four years. Mr. Mager says he was not surprised to hear reports that Mr. Clark was killed while going to the aid of a fellow student.

“He was the type of guy who would go out of his way to help someone else in need,” says Mr. Mager.

Numerous blog postings on the Internet are dedicated to Mr. Clark, and they all describe him in the same way: friendly, caring, and infectiously happy.

The Marching Virginians’ Web site has a message from the director and assistant director that reads in part, “He was a loved friend, mentor, and role model who will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the MVs as a true example of The Spirit Of Tech.

—Eugene McCormack

Family, friends remember Ryan Clark
Virginia Tech senior among Monday's shooting victims

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

MARTINEZ — All morning Tuesday, former teachers, friends and families came to the modest brick and siding house nestled under pine trees in Martinez, the home where Virginia Tech shooting victim Ryan Clark grew up.

Clark's mother, sister Nadia, aunts and other family members remained inside, but speaking for his family, twin brother Bryan said that the last time he talked to his 22-year-old brother was about 2 a.m. Sunday. It was a typical conversation for that time of the morning, Bryan Clark said, meaning that were partying and having a good time.

Ryan Clark was one of the first two people killed Monday in the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, authorities said. Clark apparently rushed over to see what was going on when he came upon the gunman, a student who lives on the fourth floor of the dormitory told the New York Times.

Bryan Clark on Tuesday described his twin as someone who could do "anything he put his mind to doing." He said their mother raised them to "not discount or say you can't do something until you've tried it."

That's why it wasn't surprising that Ryan had three majors, played in the band and planned on going into neurosurgery when he graduated, Bryan Clark said.

That ability to be open-minded was one of the things his friends seemed to admire most about Ryan.

For example, music.

While Bryan Clark's taste ran pretty much toward hip-hop and rap, friends enjoyed the fact that Ryan loved groups ranging from Korn to Bob Marley to Clarence Carter to Kenny G and Aqua.

Kizzi Rice, who went to the high school prom with Ryan Clark and was one of his best friends, said it didn't surprise her that he sprang to someone's aid when shots rang out.

"That's definitely Ryan, to be the first to react," Rice said. "He is the best person I know," she said, then corrected herself: "He was the best person I know."

Katherine Zimmerman, a 19-year-old freshman from Bedford, Va., played in Virginia Tech's Marching Virginians band with Clark, whose nickname was "Stack."

"He would always help you" in rehearsing the routines, said Zimmerman, who plays the clarinet. She lives in the same dorm where Clark was killed, although in the east rather than west wing. She learned of the shooting from an outside phone call.

"A friend called and said, 'Hey Katie, are you going to class?' And I was like, 'Ummm, yeah, why wouldn't I be going to class?' And she said, 'Somebody was shot in your dorm'," she recalled outside East Ambler Johnson Hall on Tuesday.

Natalie Funte, 19, a freshman band member from Chantilly, Va., said she and others learned early Monday afternoon that Clark had been shot and found out he was dead about 6 p.m.

"That's when it really hit hard," said Funte. "It was someone we had spent all semester with."

To honor Clark, the band members wore their uniforms to Tuesday's convocation on the Virginia Tech campus.

Clark's family learned of his death from the Columbia County coroner. The coroner, Vernon Collins, said campus police informed him Monday afternoon that Clark was in the dorm when he was killed, but Collins didn't know how he died.

"I don't think she [the officer from the police department] knew much more about the injury or where in the dorm he was shot," Collins said. "I think she was trying to get as many police agencies and coroners notified so we in turn could let family members know."

Clark, who had been at the school since 2002, had completed his coursework and was set to walk across the graduation stage in May with bachelor's degrees in biology and English, his brother said.

He intended to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology with a focus in cognitive neuroscience.

He had been a resident advisor at the coed dormitory for two years, his brother, Bryan, said.

Clark performed in Atlanta with the Marching Virginians at the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December.

The band's page on the college Web site has a picture of Clark participating in a food drive. "Stack enjoys making t-shirts ... and haggling with street vendors," his bio on the page said.

On Tuesday, at a makeshift campus memorial — a VT leaning against a maple tree — someone scrawled a salute to Clark: "Thank you, Stack. Any good I give to this world is because you inspired me and showed me how..."


Virginia Tech Magazine Profile (5/07)

Ryan Christopher Clark, known to his friends as “Stack,” leaves memories that will be forever cherished by his immediate and extended family, band mates, residents in his dormitory, colleagues, and friends.

Ryan was born in Landstuhl, West Germany, on May 29, 1984, to Letitie and Stanley Clark. He grew up in Martinez, Ga., and graduated from Lakeside High School in May 2002. There, he was a member of the Lakeside Marching Band and the Boy Scouts of America. He was active in many service organizations, including Communities in Schools of Augusta/Richmond County Teen Health Corps and Golden Harvest Food Bank. He was also the musical director at Camp Big Heart.

At Virginia Tech, Ryan maintained a 4.0 GPA and earned a bachelor of science with a triple major in psychology, biology, and English. He was also a distinguished campus leader. He played the baritone in the Marching Virginians university band and was a resident advisor in West Ambler Johnston Hall. He also was an advisor in the Imaginarium programming resource center and worked at West End Market.

“[Stack] was a wonderful part of our baritone section,” says friend Angela Pollock. “He was such a fun, loving, and delightful person to be around. He cared so much for other people and would befriend anyone. I was so blessed to play the baritone with him in the Marching Virginians. My favorite memories of Stack are of choreographing different dances to the drum line during Virginia Tech football games. He was a light and a joy! Stack will be missed by many, and memories of him will never be forgotten.”

VT Memorial Scholarship / Camp Big Heart Memorial Fund

Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Ryan Christopher Clark Memorial Scholarship has been established at Virginia Tech in his memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.

Additionally, Civitan International has established a memorial fund (the Ryan Clark Civitan Fund) to honor Ryan, who volunteered every summer at Camp Big Heart in Atlanta, Georgia since he was fourteen.  The fund will be used to expand Camp Big Heart's mission, and provide camp experiences for people with developmental disabilities