Remembering Ryan "Stack" Clark: Laughter from Yesteryearby Brant Marlett
April 19, 2007
I have so many great memories about Ryan Clark that I could go on writing for days. Here, I would just like to share some of my own personal experiences with him over the two years that I knew him, which, when looking back, make me smile and laugh when I think about them.
Ryan was one of the first people that I met and talked to at Virginia Tech. I remember walking up the hill from the parking lot next to Owens dining hall on move-in day with my parents lugging all my stuff and seeing him for the first time; seeing his wide and warm smile and his bright eyes light up as we shook hands and exchanged greetings.
He was an RA on the fourth floor of Payne that year, and I was on the first floor, but he would always take the time to walk by my room and look in and check on me. We became very good friends after only a few weeks, and he would come in and sit down in my room and we would talk about any and everything for long periods of time. Time seemed to just pause when he and I were together; it was as if he and I were the only two people in the world at that moment, and nobody could reach us. It was beautiful.
As we became closer and closer friends, we discovered that we each had this same long-sleeve, super soft, baby blue Banana Republic T-shirt. And we would always joke to each other and say, “Now don‘t wear my shirt today,” and laugh about it. Or when one of us would wear it and the one who wasn‘t caught the other wearing it, we would say, “What are you doing wearing my shirt? That‘s my shirt!”
While living in our dorm in Payne Hall, my roommate and I would always leave our door open. Stack would sometimes come in and steal this hat that I had that he liked so much and wear it around until I found out that he had it and I would have to chase him down and wrestle the hat away from him. He was so sneaky and cunning, and he was hard to chase because he was so fast and strong. But in the end, he would always let me win and take back the hat; that is until the next time he did it.
Everyday that it was nice outside, my friend Anthony Ricciardi and I would throw the football on the lawns in front of Payne Hall. Stack and I had this running joke that he thought that I sucked at football and that I couldn’t catch the ball because every time he saw me playing I would drop it. And I did drop it every time he was outside watching me play, and I don’t know why or how. He would just laugh and call me a punk and tell me how bad I was and how good he was at football. So, I would throw the ball at him thinking that he would get scared and run away. But, to my surprise, every time I did throw at him he caught it with ease. I would just laugh and he would walk away talking smack.
One of my fondest memories of Ryan was first listening to him play Twister and then actually seeing him play it - I’ll explain. The RA’s of Payne would organize Twister games sometimes on the upper floors of the hall, and one day Anthony and I were hanging out in my room on the first floor and we heard these girly shrieks and cries. We looked at each other and we heard it again. Then we determined that it must be Stack doing something. So we followed the screams upstairs and sure enough it was Stack, face beet-red, bent and twisted into contorted and amusing poses with people on top and underneath him. He was screaming and laughing hysterically as we watched him beat everybody else on the dotted mat. I think he cheated but he would never admit to it. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen.
One day during Intro to Film class last semester, which we took together, I came in singing two lines of this song that I had heard but had no idea what it was that was stuck in my head. I would sing it to Ryan and do the little hand gesticulations that went along with it and he would just burst out laughing and tell me how dumb it was. But slowly, it got stuck in his head too, and he told me to download it so he could hear it. So I did, and one day I brought it in for him to hear, and he told me how stupid and awful it was, but he secretly loved it but again would never admit to it. It was our little running joke, and it was our song that we both sang whenever we saw each other. We had so much fun with that song, and he and I would just laugh uncontrollably whenever either one of us started singing it. “Ah let it rain, and clear it out. Ah let it rain, and clear it out.”
And finally, here are just a couple of quotes that I saved from an interview I did with Stack when I wrote a magazine article about him last semester for my Professional Writing class:
“I like to call myself a social whore; my social life here is fantastic. I have way too many friends. I get along with anyone, and I talk to any and everybody.”
“My favorite color is green, favorite food mac and cheese, in my spare time I’m in marching band, love hanging out with friends, going down town and dancing and I like to read a lot.”
Ryan was a beautiful person so full of life and wonder and charisma, and I will miss him dearly as I’m sure all of his friends and family everywhere do. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and I am sorry for the loss of this amazing person.
Rest in Peace Ryan Clark.
Stack was a leader and a friend
by Andrew Mager
I knew Stack for a few years, and the simple memory I have of him is a smile. Ryan Clark‘s sense of humor and vibrant spirit for life was infused in every band member he interacted with. His amazing ability to live and love everyone who came in contact with him will be his legacy at Virginia Tech.
Everyone in the Marching Virginians will carry on his name, and I am sure that his memory will live in our hearts forever.
A few friends of mine have some kind words to share as well. Senior tuba player CJ Neagle said, “Stack and I always joked around about everything. He was caring, funny, smart; everything you could ask in a person was Stack. We talked about what we were going to do after graduation last Wednesday and he had so many plans. It is sad that such a nice person had to be taken from us so abrubtly. My heart goes out to his family and all the other victims as well.”
Former Marching Virginian executive officer and senior tuba player Mike Buck had this to say: “He was the rare sort of person who should be treasured on every level, and we would all be ever so fortunate to have friends like him, teachers like him, lovers like him, children like him.”