Meet Melissa Clark
She’s Called Jenner’s Pond Home Since 2020
Foundation and faith
In March 2020, just as the world was closing down in the face of a global pandemic, Melissa Clark and her husband, Don, moved to Jenner’s Pond. At that time, a new friend told Melissa that living at Jenner’s Pond “is like going on a cruise without water.”
“Everyone we’ve met is so warm and welcoming,” Melissa, a successful entrepreneur who continues to stay active through service, says of living in the community. “Even during this challenging time, we have made some wonderful new friends. We look forward to many happy years ahead.”
From attendants to bride and groom
It was friends who brought Melissa and Don together in Chester, Connecticut, where she grew up. She had been active in her church youth group, student council and cheerleading. At age 16, she spent a summer in Japan as an exchange student. In 1965, the year she graduated college with a degree in sociology, she was a bridesmaid in her best friend’s wedding. Don Clark was a groomsman. They clicked.
“We married in my hometown church, right where we had met, in April 1967,” Melissa recalls. “Our son, Andrew Thomas, was born in ’68 and our daughter, Jennifer Lee, in ’70. Over the years, they have brought much love and joy to our lives.”
For many years, Melissa and Don were “corporate gypsies.” They lived in New York, Ohio, Texas, Connecticut and New Jersey before finally landing in Centreville, Delaware, where they resided for 29 years, before moving to Jenner’s Pond.
A head for business
Before she was married, Melissa had spent two years in New York City with the American Field Service, placing U.S. students with European families for a summer or a year. Then, after 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, she started a career in retail sales and management, including development of Lord & Taylor’s first Personal Shopping Service. In 1989, she became a sales representative for the Ginny Johannson accessory house. After moving to Delaware, she launched her own business as an independent sales rep for a number of accessory designers and manufacturers, and worked with Nordstrom nationally and other specialty stores across the Mid-Atlantic.
“In December of 2000, I received a call asking me if I would represent a small start-up company named SPANX,” Melissa says. As one of the first reps the foundation garment company hired, she remembers being in the Atlanta office the day company founder Sara Blakely appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “The telephone went crazy. Never stopped ringing.”
As SPANX grew more successful, so did Melissa. She dropped her other lines to focus on SPANX and hired someone to help her. She retired in 2013.
“Representing this revolutionary product line of ‘underpinnings’ for women was a great pleasure, as well as supplying me with many, many funny stories,” she says.
A heart for others
She says she loved every job she had, but life wasn’t all about work. Over the years, she and Don have enjoyed collecting antiques, going to the theater, playing tennis and golf or skiing, and traveling. A trip to Innsbruck, Austria, to celebrate son Andy’s 18th birthday is a favorite memory. And while her daughter was studying during her Junior year of college in Japan, Melissa went back, with her family, to visit and see the family she had stayed with 30 years earlier. Closer to home, she and Don enjoy walking at Longwood Gardens and Winterthur.
“Most of all, we enjoy spending time with our children, their wonderful spouses and our five beloved grandchildren,” Melissa says.
She and Don are active members of White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in Newark, Delaware. She was a member of the church’s governing body for six years and currently serves on the Missions, Personnel, Women’s Retreat and 300th Anniversary committees. Along with her son, Melissa co-coordinates the church’s Family Promise ministry—part of a nation-wide program that gives hope and promise to families with children that are experiencing homelessness. Melissa and Don also volunteer with Urban Promise, a Wilmington non-profit that provides after-school and summer camp programs for inner-city youth.
Having experienced the world at a young age, Melissa recognized that, although life was very different in Japan than it was in the United States, people shared the same values. Today, she says the most important lesson she has learned over the years is to “accept life and people as they come. Love people.” And through her generous service to the church and community, she demonstrates the power of that wisdom.