Former WNY Resident in Afghanistan Dies in Skype Chat with Wife

3:04 PM, May 5, 2012   |    comments
Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark is shown with his wife, Susan Orellana-Clark, and daughters Camille (left) and Catherine. / Provided by Mariana Barry
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Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark lived in Spencerport for only six years but managed to make a lasting impression.

Clark, 43, a U.S. Army nurse, died Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Clark's wife Susan witnessed her husband's death as the two video chatted via Skype, his family said Friday.

The circumstances of Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark's death Monday were not immediately available.

"We are entrusting the military with investigating and with finding out what happened to Capt. Clark," Bradley Taber-Thomas, Clark's brother-in-law, told The Associated Press.

The Pentagon said the 43-year-old officer was formerly from Spencerport, N.Y., and that his death is under investigation.

"Bruce's wife tragically witnessed her husband's death during one of their regular Skype video-chats on Monday," Taber-Clark said in a prepared statement. "At the time of the incident, the family was hoping for a rescue and miracle, but later learned that it was not to be.

He joined the Army in 2006, motivated by patriotism and a love for nursing, said Mariana Barry, the sister of Clark's wife, Susan Orellana-Clark.

"He's a very patriotic kind of guy and he loved being in the military," Barry said. "He loved the camaraderie with the nurses. ... They would have been lifers."

Clark, who was born in Michigan, met his wife there, Barry said. They married in 1999 and have two daughters, ages 3 and 9.

They moved to Spencerport, Orellana-Clark's hometown, in 2000. Clark served at the Spencerport Fire Department from 2000 to 2001 and he and his wife regularly attended St. Mary's Church in Rochester, Barry said.

Clark worked for four years at Highland Hospital, then enrolled in a nursing program at The College at Brockport and graduated in 2006.
Assistant Professor Nancy Iafrati, who had him in a course his senior year, remembered him as "empathetic and compassionate," especially with patients' families.

"He's remembered very fondly here as a hard-working person," she said. "He was self-motivated, he was self-directed and he interacted well with patients and families."

Barry called Clark "an All-American guy," a smooth talker with his three sisters-in-law and a devoted father to his two daughters, whom he took fishing and bicycling along the Erie Canal.

"He was a very laid-back kind of guy - he didn't let a lot of things bother him," she said. "He really was just loved at his job, the family, the church. He was very involved in the community and very respected."

Susan Orellana-Clark and their children are now in El Paso, Texas, where Clark was stationed at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center. He had previously been stationed in Hawaii.

Clark was on his first deployment and died in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province. The Army has not yet released a cause of death.

The family is making funeral arrangements in Spencerport and intends to have a homecoming ceremony for the body, Barry said.

JUSTIN MURPHY- ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & Chronicle and Associated Press

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