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Remembering Ryan "Stack" Clark: Laughter from Yesteryear

by Brant Marlett
Entertainment Editor
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.”

Comments (28)

Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories. I am trying to ignore all of the coverage of the killer and focus on the victims, so they will be the ones I remember.

Kathy | April 19, 2007 8:55 PM


You and your friends have become amazing journalists, and I'm only sorry it took this to allow me to see how well you guys handle your craft.

I pray Ryan is your only loss in this, as I share in your grief over him. I also ask that you keep my sister in your thoughts as she has lost 7 in the unbelievable mess.

Chris McCollough | April 19, 2007 9:58 PM

Please do more of these stories, celebrating the lives of the 32.

God Bless.

Melinda | April 20, 2007 12:22 AM

Thanks for sharing your stories about Ryan "Stack" Clark. I could tell just by looking at his photos that this young man was a good person and someone I would have liked to have had the joy of knowing. My condolences to all who knew him.

Laura | April 20, 2007 1:21 AM

Shouldn't there be a specialized article for each and every one of the victims from Monday, April 16th, 2007?
It would be nice to have an article coming from people who were close to the victims to be able to know these people not just as victims, but as the special, unique individuals that they are.

Sally | April 20, 2007 1:49 AM

Oh my brother, wonderful Ryan... I did not know you but i can tell by your pics that you were a beautiful person. I know you all walked into heavens gates together hand in hand. God is good and my prayer continue for all the victim's families. I will never forget your smile!

Ingrid | April 20, 2007 2:11 AM

From the comments mentioned, I believe without a doubt there should be a renaming for the dorm he stayed in to Stack. So all who stay in there will never forgot such a great man. This comes from a guy who never went to VT, never lived in Virgina, but will I never forget.
Much love and prayers go out to all who knew the victims.

Ben | April 20, 2007 6:40 AM

I had recently met ryan my last semester at school (spring 06) he always made going to class worth while because he came in with a smile, a comedic remark, and a honey bunn! I am so glad that so many of you got a chance to know such a truely genuine person.

Carrie | April 20, 2007 7:54 AM

Oh God this is so painful to read, it is so touching to hear the simple, real, personal relationships and connections. I’m up here in NYC right now and it is mostly the media sensationalism that I hear/see. I was just looking at the photos of each victim, and thought about how each of them had dreams hopes and wishes - w/friends + family all grieving these losses. I wonder what type of permanent memorial can be erected in honor of each person, something where everyone can post a sweet memory/story? I send my prayers and warm comforting thoughts to VT and the network of every friend, family member, lover and stranger who has encounter the shining spirits of each person

Rich Kiamco | April 20, 2007 8:40 AM

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too would like to see a tribute to all of the victims of this senseless crime. My heart is breaking for all those lost and all those left behind.

Chris | April 20, 2007 8:57 AM

This story is a real tear jurker!!!!!
i feel bad for the family's of the 32 dead.
do more stores on the other 31......!!!!!

James H. | April 20, 2007 2:08 PM

Thank you for sharing the experiences you shared with Ryan Clark. Although I don't attend Viriginia Tech. or even live on the East Coast, I wish could have met Ryan.

Dara | April 20, 2007 4:13 PM

I don't live in the USA but in the UK and want to send my love and thoughts to you all. What a wonderful group of people you are. Ryan sounds like a real ray of sunshine, i never met him but feel warmed by this story and your memories of him.

I wish you all much courage and love for the months to come.

Claire | April 20, 2007 5:37 PM

Thanks for posting this. I have heard so little about the actual victims, tehir names, their traits, who and what made them who they were. So it's nice. As well Cho, it's easy enough to know was just a nut plane and simple...I wish I heard more about the other victims.

Thanks!!! Again!!!

just a person | April 20, 2007 7:07 PM

Wow. What a person--a ray of light--a perfect example of humanity. I didn't know him, but by reading the aforewritten words and seeing pictures of such a beautiful person, what must have been, inside and out, I am saddened for the loss of life and loss of such an amazing human spirit. Ryan, you will be missed, even by those have only just met you. Look down from time to time and shed your light on the world.

Robert Phillips | April 20, 2007 7:58 PM

I love the photo of Ryan in his marching band uniform. My son played tuba and sousaphone from middle school until he graduated from high school. He, too, loved the marching band. God is keeping you in His care. Play loud in heaven Ryan so that we may hear you from below. Thank you for sharing these articles about this fine young man.

CJ from NC | April 20, 2007 8:11 PM

I know this is a very hard time for this nation but I pray that Ryan's family would accept my famlies' condolences. I never knew him nor have any type of affiliation with Va.Tech. But as I sit here at my desk wearing my maroon and orange, I couldn't help but stop to find some information about Ryan. Being a fellow musician, my family and I shed tears along with you in the loss of your son, friend ,bandmate and relative. Although I am not a Hokie parent yet, my son who plays football and in the 6th grade declared his allegience to Va. Tech three years ago after watching highlights of Micheal Vick. Even after asking him yesterday wondering if his mind has changed, he still wants to attend Va Tech. I even talked to him about Ryan and how dedicated he was to his craft so I've learned. My GOD continue to Bless you and keep you Clark family and Va. Tech for we know that Ryan is now playing that instrument, hopefully someday we'll play together while praising GOD. My family and I live in Upper Marlboro Md. and grief with you. We will continue to pray for you. For the Bible says "For we walk by FAITH and not by sight" Lets'continue to keep the faith...HE'S'able to carry you through.

Eric Taylor | April 21, 2007 7:18 AM

I live in Thomasville,Ga.where Ryan's mother lived and father still does.My heart is deeply sadden by the lost of this young and bright leader.My prayers goes out to all the families who suffered during this time of sorrow. We must remember that "weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning." I will not say goodbye to Ryan but simply good night,for I will see you in the morning!Loretha Johnson- Blalock,Thomasville,Ga.

Rev.Loretha Johnson-Blalock | April 21, 2007 12:34 PM

Your stories of Ryan moved me to tears. A triple major, honor student, musician and all round terrific guy. My heart breaks for his family and all of his many friends. You are in my thoughts and my prayers as you say so long to your friend, your son, your brother, Ryan. Rest in peace, you've left the world a better place.

Sandra Williams | April 21, 2007 1:38 PM

oh san4135 - aren't you tired of posting the same thoughts? Basically you've said this twice on The Wall, and thank goodness one of your postings has been removed. Do you geniunely believe in what you say, or is this your idea of sensationalism? Either way san4135, Jesus loves you the same as those who you write about. You are not better nor less than those in your postings. I think you'd find the book of Job very interesting. Please read it and post your thoughts on it. You write like a troubled soul. Your spelling needs a ton of improvement - and sentence structure is a mess. What grade are you in anyway? Find a tutor - improve your grades in school, and enjoy life. I will hope that you are smarter than you want to appear and are taking great pains to appear less than bright. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Grace and Peace to you.

CJ in NC | April 21, 2007 11:48 PM

Stack...Has left a big impression on my soul...such a bright star...we definitly need more "Stacks" in this our world...God bless and keep you always....Sending my heartfelt condolences..:-(

Brenda form Orlando Florida | April 22, 2007 7:43 PM

I just recently found out that i am related to Ryan. I never met him. R.I.P Ryan. It makes me heart sick that i never had a chance to meet such a wonderful person.

Jaime | April 23, 2007 1:41 PM

Ryan's story is now burned into my memory...right next to Jake and Josh Ryker. The Ryker brothers confronted and tackled the killer in an Oregon High School, even though Jake had taken a shot to the chest.

I imagine Ryan confronting the killer trespassing in AJ, and it costing his life. I live in Colorado, and ask people to remember just one name, Ryan Clark...triple major, 4.0 student, smart, funny, engaging, responsible...he is Virginia Tech.

Peter | April 23, 2007 2:12 PM

I never met RYAN but i hear alot of good and positive things about him. I will keep his family and the others in my prayers. God Bless

cynthia | April 23, 2007 5:12 PM

Ryan seemed like he was just an all american person .... I wish I could've met him.... But he's on the right hand of Jesus now.... and that is a better place.... God Bless His Family and Friends....

Amanda C. | April 23, 2007 9:14 PM

I did not know Ryan Clark. Out of all the victims of this horrific tragedy, I have been inexplicably drawn to his story from the beginning. What a beautiful spirit to have touched so many, even those those of us who never knew him. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends. I did not know Ryan Clark, but I will never forget him.

Ann | April 24, 2007 9:35 PM

To the family and friends of Ryan Clark:

I am a HOKIE (Class of 1998) and I too worked at Virginia Tech as a Resident Advisor. Reading about Ryan reminds me so much of my times at Virginia Tech. The ability to help people, the desire to be happy, the outgoing personality, and just an overall love for people in general is so visible in Ryan through the photos and the stories told by family and friends.

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how sorry I am for your loss. Ryan seems to be one of those people that you'll never forget...someone that means something to everyone he encountered.

I also want to say thank you for allowing such a wonderful person to represent Virginia Tech. I truly believe VT was the best thing that happened to me. I learned so much and gained so much of who I am today because of VT and the people and the experiences I encountered. Even though I did not know Ryan personally, I feel like I got to know him spiritually. His strength and commitment have made me think about who I am today and it because of him and the other victims that I will change for the better.

I am also a mother of twin girls (3 year olds) and it truly pained me to watch Ryan�s twin brother and sister mourn for him. I can only imagine the bond that Ryan had with his family and his friends. For each of you, I will continue to pray.

Stack, my friend you are Virginia Tech.

A Forever HOKIE
Owings Mills, MD

Ayanna | May 3, 2007 8:36 PM

That's definitely MY twister program Brant's referring to. (Glad toknow you at least came to one RHF thing... well, then there was that make-up party too, but I digress.) Stack was an amazing friend. (despite almost getting me kicked out of The Gap... and Burger King...) I miss him dearly and I know everyone else does too. I'm trying to live today as I think he would have wanted it.

April Mooneyham | April 16, 2008 10:46 AM