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'We are devastated': Indian Hill community mourns the loss of beloved high school choir and theater director

Jeff Clark passed away from advanced stage four colon cancer
Jeff Clark (clear photo)
Posted at 8:35 AM, Jun 07, 2023

CINCINNATI — The Indian Hill community is mourning the loss of a beloved educator.

Indian Hill High School Choir and Theater Director Jeff Clark died Tuesday from advanced stage four colon cancer.

"The beloved, award-winning educator brought to life some of the most memorable productions to grace the Indian Hill High School Auditorium," the Indian Hill School District said.

Clark has been with the district since 2016. He's been an educator since 2001.

“We are devastated, with our students, our parents, and our community, at the loss of this passionate educator, who offered our students incredible, unparalleled experiences in the arts,” said Indian Hill School District CEO/Superintendent Kirk Koennecke. “Our hearts are with Mr. Clark’s family.”

Clark documented his illness in journal entries through Caring Bridge. He wrote that he started feeling sick while on a trip to Europe with his choir students in March. Once back in the U.S. he underwent multiple tests, including blood work, ultrasound, MRI, CT scans, and a colonoscopy, In early May, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and had three tumors on his liver.

After a complicated surgery Clark was transferred to hospice care on June 5, according to the journal entries.

His family and the district announced Clark's death shortly after he passed away Tuesday.

"It's harder when it's this sudden," Indian Hill High School Principal Jeff Damadeo said.

Damadeo said Clark was more than a teacher, describing him as a good friend, mentor and role model.

"He exemplified everything you want in an educator," he said. "What Jeff Clark helped build in that room and on stage and beyond is something that you don't see all the time — that level of love, passion, connection for kids and just pure joy. He loved to teach and he loved our kids."

Prior to joining Indian Hill, Clark was an educator in the Fairfield City Schools community, where he taught for 12 years.

Serving as Choral Director at Fairfield High School, he led the Fairfield Choraliers show choir to a championship victory at the 2012 World Choir Games, which was held in Cincinnati.

"I just felt shattered and gutted," AJ Johnson said.

A member of that world championship team, Johnson was a student of Clark's from 2006 to 2014. He looked up to Clark as a father figure, he said.

"He led with love," Johnson said. "Regardless of how heavy his life personally was he always just led us with his full heart and that's why it's just so easy to love him."

His family said the money raised for his medical expenses through GoFundMe will now also be used for his funeral expenses.

Damadeo said the road ahead will be tough, but Clark's legacy will resonate for decades to come.

"I haven't really wrapped my mind around the future without Jeff Clark," Damadeo said. "Jeff Clark is irreplaceable. Whomever is the next great educator that we find to help us be with our kids, they're not filling Jeff Clark's shoes — that's not why they're here. They're here to allow us to move forward, but never move on."

Grief counseling services for students and staff will be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday.

There will be a celebration of life ceremony honoring Clark Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Indian Hill High School.

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