I was born in San Antonio, Texas, August 25, 1947. My mother was Jane Elizabeth Denike, born in San Antonio in 1921 to my maternal grandparents, John Seymour Denike and Gertrude Paulus. My father was A. Fletcher Clark, Jr. MD, born in Prairie Lea in Caldwell County, Texas in 1915. His father, A. Fletcher Clark, Sr. MD was also born in Prairie Lea in 1887, the tenth child of Thomas Francis Clark, whose father William Hutchison Clark and family had left Mississippi in 1850 to settle in Caldwell County. My paternal great-grandmother was Elizabeth Eustace. My paternal grandmother was Bird Ella Shanklin of nearby Fentress, born in Prairie Lea in 1881, the daughter of James and Nannie Malone Shanklin. My grandparents were wed in 1914, some years after Bird had been Fletcher's school teacher and he had returned to establish a medical practice.

My full name is Archibald Fletcher Clark III, although as my father and grandfather before, I rely on my middle name. (In spite of society's customary first-name-middle-initial, Fletcher, being the guiding feather of an arrow or a maker of arrows, is somewhat less stuffy than Archibald, meaning “nobly bold”.) As to the origin of those names, my great-great-uncle Fletcher, a Methodist minister in Dallas, carried this old family name. My grandfather, a bit of a wag - and a scalawag - always told me that Archibald was the name of the “whiskey priest” (a fallen man of the cloth) who had presided over his birth in the absence of a midwife.

Fletcher's Sr. and Jr. were both otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose and Throat specialists), both from Tulane Medical School. Let me dispense with any misunderstanding. Although Dr. Eugene Clark, founder of Lockhart's library (the oldest in Texas), was also an otolaryngologist trained at Tulane, there is no genealogical connection between his family line and mine. My speculation, however, is that my great-grandmother admonished young Fletcher that if he wanted to make something of himself, he should follow old Doc Clark's lead and become a physician.

Growing up in San Antonio, I began playing music professionally at age thirteen. I graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1965, and by then had determined that I would not follow the family path into medicine. I went to small liberal arts Williams College in western Massachusetts to pursue the study of economics with the world- class scholars there. I ended up taking more music than economics,studying composition with an old-school curmudgeon who had himself studied with famed composers Paul Hindemith, Walter Piston, and Ralph Vaughn-Williams. After graduation in 1969, I moved to Boston to head up Commercial Market Planning for New England Merchants National Bank. After two-and-a-half years, I experienced the inevitable flattening of the learning curve and began singing folk music in the coffee houses around Harvard Square. And it became tiresome having to cook my own enchiladas and chicken-fried steaks. (Years later, my father would reveal that he was greatly relieved when I left banking to return to music, as he didn't much like me as a banker. This was in the '80's and he said he was glad to have lived long enough to see being a musician as a more honorable profession than being a banker.)

So I packed up and moved to Austin in 1972, where I promptly fell into being the Business Manager for legendary concert hall, Armadillo World Headquarters. I also started a band called Balcones Fault, which enjoyed considerable success in the '70's. As a sideman for songwriters Steven Fromholz, Bobby Bridger, Bill & Bonnie Hearne, Kenneth Threadgill, and others, I have been associated with the Kerrville Folk Festival for over forty years. I have had a career as a sound engineer and recording producer with an extensive discography, including teaching audio production for ten years at Austin Community College.

Some years back, I tired of the changes in Austin, and my creative career had seemingly dried up. Bill McNeal, now a retired local attorney, offered me lodging at his family spread near Stairtown, so I packed up my guitars and my sketch books and moved to his Flying Dollar Ranch – lovingly dubbed thus for the nature of investing in music projects. Bill is a fine songwriter himself, and I undertook to manage and produce his ensemble Slaves of Utopia, playing at Alice's Restaurant in Niederwald, the Luling Watermelon Thump and other area venues.

I was backstage at the Old Settlers Music Festival in 2006 visiting with colleague Freddie Krc, when he asked how I had ended up at McNeal's down on the San Marcos River. I replied, “I don' know - something called me back to Caldwell County.” I immediately ran off to grab a legal pad to transcribe this song, Back to Caldwell County, which recounts the genealogical path of A. Fletcher Clark III.

After a brief return to Austin, I moved to Lockhart in 2008, where I attend and provide music for Emmanuel Episcopal Church, along with my friends Donaly Brice, Judge Todd Blomerth and Prof. Kevin Mooney. Drawing inspiration from this experience, I have published a Personal Hymnal, Open Up the Doors, a collection of my original songs for the church. In 2010, I took twelve of the many songs I had written while residing at Bill McNeal's and recorded them using twelve different acts. Reviving our old label Armadillo Records and publishing company Armadillo Music, the resulting CD, TAKING TURNS, is a showroom for Austin musicians, recording studios, as well as my producing and songwriting. Continuing my songwriting career, I produce and host Evenings with the Songwriter, a monthly series “exploring the art and craft of songwriting” at the historic Dr. Eugene Clark Library, currently in its fourth season.

Rebecca Hawener, hostess for Lockhart's feted Evening with the Authors, is another valued friend from Emmanuel Episcopal. Last fall, she asked me to accompany her to her monthly board meeting of the Friends of the O. Henry and Susanna Dickinson Museums. They were to plan their February, 2014 Annual Meeting at which they would commemorate the 200th Birthday of Susanna Dickinson. Her not-thinly-veiled plan worked out, as I was captivated by Susanna's intriguing story. Together, we then roped Donaly into lending his historical skills and credibility to the venture, creating a program which we now proudly present to other organizations and audiences.

A. Fletcher Clark III, August 25, 2014

©2014, Fletcher Clark. All Rights Reserved.
rev. 8/21/14