BY JIM LANGAN
But before she died she made Barry promise he would make that trip and on Sunday August 12th Barry Clark began the journey of a lifetime. Their son, Richard, loaded a dinghy into the back of his pickup truck and attached a modest motorboat christened “The Dolores” and headed to a local marina with his dad. Richard asked his father when he expected to return but his dad said simply, “I’m not sure, I’m in no hurry.” And with that he was off and heading up the mighty Hudson River.
The Dolores is a no-frills boat with no canopy and a small outboard engine. Behind it Barry tows a small dinghy with basic supplies and a tarp. Barry had also fashioned a makeshift bed with two boards and the tarp. He intended to sleep on the boat every night. A series of ferocious thunderstorms had Barry in trouble early on. Sunday night saw Barry tethered to a stanchion below the Tappan Zee Bridge in a driving rainstorm. Monday saw an exhausted, wet and hungry Barry Clark pulling into the Hyde Park Marina where he caught the eye of marina manager Jeff Ledoux and Paul Carufe. According to Barry, he was prepared to give up. “I just knew I couldn’t go any further and was sure I was going to get pneumonia and die just like so many old people do. But Jeff saved my life and I mean that.”
Ledoux said he was shocked at Barry’s condition and immediately went to help him. Jeff brought Barry into the marina, got him a hot shower, dry clothes and a warm bed. When Jeff offered to take Barry to dinner, Barry said he’d be very happy with some McDonalds which they got for him. By the next morning a dry and refreshed Barry took to the Hudson again but not before Ledoux had drained the boat of standing water and checked its seaworthiness. Ledoux has been following Barry’s adventure every step of the way and told Hudson Valley News he intends on driving to Lake Champlain to bring Barry back to New Jersey.
It was last Tuesday when Maddie Gund-lach, an owner of Hyde Park Auto Repair, called Hudson Valley News. We immediately recognized it as an inspirational story checking off all the emotional food groups. We immediately put what we knew up on our Facebook page and the story exploded. Barry Clark was a rock star. Within hours well-wishers were inundating our Facebook page with offers of help and encouragement. Within 24 hours we had more than 110,000 views and thousands of likes and shares on our Facebook page. People are now following and invested in Barry’s journey. Media from all over the country have been reporting on the story and Barry has done a number of TV interviews. He is being recognized from shore, marinas and even tour boats. Barry told us he could hear voices from a tour boat shouting, “It’s him. I love him.”
Barry says he is completely over-whelmed by all the attention and so appreciative of all the love and support he has received. Along the way he has had people pay for his gas, buy him meals and put him up. A number of people have offered Barry their vacation homes on Lake Champlain which is his ultimate destination. During Barry’s stop at the Schuylerville Yacht Basin, volunteers took it upon themselves to spruce up The Dolores; giving the engine a tune-up, sealing holes in the hull, laying in fresh supplies and giving Barry new tarps and a couple of military style sleeping bags. Barry was also treated to a sumptuous steak dinner at the adjacent Clark’s Steakhouse. Witnesses say Barry was moved to tears in the morning when he saw and met the perfect strangers who had worked on his boat. On more than one occasion speaking with this reporter, Barry has become emotional about the kindness of strangers he has encountered. The game plan is for Barry to make his way to South Hero Eagle Camp in Grand Isle County, Vermont and get some rest.
Now, before anyone thinks this is the end of a great love story and promise kept, there is one more thing we want to share with you. Three years ago, a 16-year-old niece of Barry and Dolores became pregnant and it was soon clear she was in no position to care for the child. Barry and Dolores decided they would take the child in as their own and they did. According to their son, Richard Bell, the decision was not a popular one with the family. Well-meaning family members argued Dolores and Barry were too old and Dolores’s illness only reinforced that argument. Neither Barry nor Dolores budged and before she died Dolores made Barry promise he would raise the now three-year-old Mason. The boy lives with Barry full-time as Barry fulfills yet another promise to his beloved Dolores.
Hudson Valley News is pleased to report Barry has agreed to come to Hyde Park in the near future to reunite with Jeff Ledoux and the many people who helped him on his journey of a lifetime. We will work with Jeff Ledoux and Maddie Gundlach to make it happen and the Hudson Valley News will let everyone know where and when but for the moment we intend to let Barry finish his trip and get some rest.
Barry Clark is a man of his word. The 80-year-old New Jersey resident is in the process of keeping a promise he made to his late, beloved wife Dolores. They had spoken often of Barry’s desire to take a motorboat up the Hudson River to Lake Champlain in Vermont, a place young Barry had often gone with his parents. But life got in the way as it often does, and Dolores became ill and passed away in June 2017. But before she died she made Barry promise he
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