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Nell Nadine "Dean" Clarke, R.N., age 85, of Ionia, formerly of Port Hope and Taylor, passed away on Monday morning, May 16, 2016 at her home under the loving care of her family and Spectrum Health Hospice.  The daughter of Robert Emery & Nellie Blye (Blackburn) Grossman, she was born on June 30, 1930 in Erie, Pennsylvania. 

Dean received her nurses training and earned her Registered Nurse diploma in Philadelphia and then made a career at Children's Hospital in Detroit, where she retired after 30 years as Director of the Operating Room and Post-Anesthesia Care Unit.  While at Children's Hospital she was privileged to help thousands of children and their families, was involved in some of the first pediatric live organ transplants in Michigan, helped develop specialized surgical instruments and care protocols, and mentored many professionals who shared that  knowledge in hospitals across the country.  At her retirement she was presented with a special Captain's chair by Children's Hospital of Michigan, an honor that had previously only been bestowed upon retiring surgeons and physicians.  

A fellow nurse, Patricia Clarke, introduced her new brother-in-law, John Joseph "Jack" Clarke, to Dean and on January 24, 1969, at St. Alfred Catholic Church in Taylor, Jack and Dean were wed and went on to enjoy 47 years of marriage.  Over those years they traveled to every state in the Union and all the Canadian provinces, enjoyed several cruises, and delighted in weekends and time away from the big city at their retreat in Port Hope overlooking the waters of Lake Huron.  In retirement they made their home in Port Hope, were members of Our Lady of Lake Huron Catholic Church in Harbor Beach, and spent the winter months in the sunshine and warmth in Largo, Florida, until moving to Green Acres in Ionia this past fall.

Dean was preceded in death by her parents;  her brother, John Robert Grossman;  a son, Joseph Cullen "Bud" Clarke;  brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Leo "Skip" & Patricia Clarke;  and a step-grandson, Ryan M. Wilson.  Surviving are her husband, John J. Clarke;  a sister-in-law, Myrtle Grossman Thompson of Mesa, Arizona;  two daughters, Julie & Dan Hyde of Gowen, and Barbara & Jeffrey McCarty of Phoenix, Arizona;  a daughter-in-law, Sherri Clarke-Owen of Colorado;  three grandsons, Robert & Joni Christiansen of Greenville, John & Christina Christiansen of Crystal, and Kyle P. Clarke of Grand Rapids;  a granddaughter, Julie Ann "Jules" Slicker of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin;  two nieces, Patricia & Randy Solo, and Karen & Kurt Williams, all of Chandler, Arizona;  a nephew, Michael Grossman & Jennifer Mayol of Novato, California;  a great nephew, Kyle Williams of Colorado;  four great-grandchildren, Austin Krausz, Jenna Christiansen and her fiancé Andrew Josselyn, Thoren Christiansen, and Taryn Christiansen;  and many beloved cousins, colleagues, and friends. 

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 17, 2016 at St. Charles Catholic Church, 505 S. Lafayette Street, Greenville, with the Rev. Father Michael F. Cilibraise presiding.  Final interment will be at Great Lakes National Cemetery near Holly.  Instead of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions in Dean's memory to the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation. ( 

Dean's family will forever be grateful to all of her wonderful physicians, nurses, and caregivers, but extend their special gratitude to Father Luis Garcia and the church family at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Ionia for aiding in her faith journey, and to Cheryl Shapiro, R.N., and the team at Spectrum Health Hospice for allowing her to peacefully enter her new Eternal life. 

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Dean's online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:   Arrangements are entrusted to Christiansen Cremation & Funeral Care, Greenville.


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5 Condolences

  1. Jim & Kim Rudolph on May 20, 2016 at 12:00 am


    So sorry to see your grandmothers passing. Can’t help but notice she was a registered nurse. So we all know nurturing was her life. May God bless her memory and keep her in her families hearts.

  2. Peggy Cavanaugh on May 22, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Dean hired me to work in the operating room in 1971. I continued to work there for the next 25 years. She was the best manager I ever had in my nursing career. My thoughts and prayers are with Jack and the family

  3. Richard & Stacey Rivard on May 24, 2016 at 12:00 am

    The best neighbor we ever had! Dean was always our go to lady when we needed encouragement or just a hug. Loved her like a sister. Our years spent next door to the Clarkes on the shores of Lake Huron will never be forgotten.

  4. Annerose and Rufus on May 29, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Dean hired me to work in the Operating Room at CHM.
    I enjoyed working with her and we developed a life time friendship.
    We will miss her but know, that we will meet her again.
    Dean, your faith was an encouragement to us.
    Annerose and Rufus

  5. Franca Weitenberner on September 11, 2019 at 12:00 am

    I was hired in 19070 while we were in the old hospital by Dean. Best leader I have ever had. As I still work as an Interim exec over Perioperative services i don’t think a day goes by when I realize I cut my teeth on the best OR experience ever at CHM and all the leaders and physicians were role models of how to practice and respect. A lost art this service line. She and Sue MacDonald were quite the team along with Jack Hertzler and Marvin Jewell. You and Jack were a real example of love and respect for each other. So happy you were together for so long XX

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