Commencement is always an emotional moment but for 2016 West Liberty University graduate Kylie Clark, who died yesterday, it was a touching tribute to her unusual strength and positive attitude.
The Nov. 28 ceremony was a private affair, set in the Boyle Conference Center, just days before the formal commencement ceremony that was open to the public. President Stephen Greiner presided and made a brief speech describing Clark, her academic work as she earned her degree in exercise physiology, and fierce talent as a member of the Lady Hilltoppers softball team.
She walked down the aisle to the podium to pick up her diploma, with the assistance of her father, Bruce, since she’s been fighting cancer and resorted to a wheelchair often. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011, during her freshman year at WLU. It reoccurred and became inoperable recently.
Unfortunately, Kylie passed away on Monday, Dec. 12, just seven days after celebrating her 25th birthday.
“We offer our sincere, heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Kylie Clark. West Liberty University is so proud of her and pleased that we could share this very special commencement ceremony with her and her loved ones,” President Greiner said. “She is truly an inspiration to all.”
Kylie Clark’s funeral is set for Friday, Dec. 16.
“I’ll never forget in June of 2010 when my assistant coach Ken Campanizzi called me and said he had a student interested in softball from Martins Ferry, would I talk to her. I said sure. A week later, Kylie and her parents came up and we talked for an hour or so. I unfortunately had no scholarship money left to award her at that time. But she was just appreciative of the opportunity to play. Kylie was a very likeable team player and her later diagnosis didn’t seem to slow her down. She continued to be an active member as much as possible from then on, keeping the scorebook and acting as team manager. She never left the program and remained an inspiration to all the girls over the six years she was involved, right through last spring. Just a week ago today a few of us had dinner with her family and it was an enjoyable time. In the grand scheme of things it just ended too fast,” said Herb Minch, softball coach for the Lady Hilltoppers. “We hope her parents get through this terrible loss and we will always remember Kylie.”
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The softball team raised about $1,600 on their own to donate to her medical costs.
Also a 2010 Martins Ferry High School graduate, Kylie played softball and basketball for the Purple Riders and is the daughter of Bruce and Kimberley (McFarland) Clark of Bridgeport, Ohio.
A Go Fund Me account was set up sometime ago for Kylie’s benefit with medical costs and is still operational for those interested in assisting the family with this and funeral costs. Please click here for details and to donate.
Kylie’s funeral is being handled by Heslop Funeral Home, located at Walnut and Fifth streets, Martins Ferry. Friends will be received from 2 – 4 and 6 – 8 p.m., Thursday and from 10 – 11 a.m. at the First Christian Church, 710 South Zane Highway, Martins Ferry, the site of the servic