LAURINBURG — Owen E. Clark clung to a ladder about 30 feet in the air Wednesday afternoon and had intentions of going even higher.
Clark, a 71-year-old handyman from Fayetteville, was beginning work on refurbishing the flag pole outside the former Mary-Helen Keller Literacy Center on Fairly Street, which was part of Richmond Community College. It was just one of many projects slated on the building, which will soon become the Laurinburg office for Murray Fork Clinic.
The height — as well as the fact that Clark had rigged two 24-foot extension ladders together in an effort to reach the American eagle at the top — didn’t seem to bother him.
“Heck, I used to jump out of airplanes,” said the Army veteran who was a former parachute rigger with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. “I guess I’m just crazy.”
Clark spent many years as the owner of Clark’s Boot Service & Shoe Repair at Fort Bragg, a business he ran with his wife and two sons.
“We shined more than 20,000 boots at Fort Bragg over the years,” he said. “People knew of my business around the world.”
Now, he’s got a job that will entail projects big and small.
“I’m basically (the doctor’s) project manager,” Clark said. “He’s not really interested in me taking up time with these smaller projects, like the flag pole, but I think it’s important.
“I just feel the pole needs some real spiffing up, because it looked terrible — like it was on a battle ship that had become rusted out,” he added.
Clark plans to paint the pole silver, and he has two shades of gold saved for the eagle.
“Hopefully, I can make it look like a bald eagle should look,” he said. “To me the flag pole is the heart and soul.”
The inside of the building will require plenty of work, as well. It’s basically been gutted and needs new windows, new floors and a new roof — just for a start.
Although Clark is there doing the work himself, for the most part, he does have a companion to keep him company — his dog Sheeba.
“Sheeba helps keep me sane … if that’s possible,” he said.
Clark said the building will hopefully be completed in July.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]