He moved like evening into the night,
Forgetful as the swans forget their flightOr spring the fragile snow,
So quickly did he go.
In the late evening of July 10, 1994, Clinton F. Larson, poet and playwright, passed peacefully away in much the same way as he described the passing of a dear friend in his poem, "To A Dying Girl" (adapted above). Clinton spent much of his 74 years bearing his spiritual witness and sharing his wealth of knowledge in his writing and his teaching.
As a professor of English and Poet in Residence at Brigham Young University, he--in the words of his friend, colleague, and editor, David L. Evans--"is one of the most significant and highly respected Mormon writers of our time and also one of the most prolific. Judging by the voluminous output of his mind--in every writing medium and on just about any topic--it is apparent that he is in a productive mode during all his waking hours. He thinks poetically, he speaks poetically; and much of his daily thought therefore can end up, and quite often does, in written form. He is also, of course, widely published, with over three million copies of his books in use in addition to his poetry and plays appearing individually in many and various publications."
Clinton was born September 22, 1919, in American Fork, Utah, the only child of Lillian Foster and Clinton Larson. Young Clint grew up in Salt Lake City and served a mission for the L.D.S. Church in England and New England during the early years of World War II. He married Naomi Barlow on June 24, 1942, in the Salt Lake Temple. Clinton served as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, after which he earned his M.A. in English at the University of Utah in 1948 and his Ph.D in English at the University of Denver in 1956. Clinton joined the English faculty at B.Y.U. in 1947 and taught there until his retirement in 1985.
Clinton and Naomi are the parents of Sue Paxman (John M.) of Lexington, Massachusetts, and Diane Porter (C. Vard) of Chula Vista, California, and the grandparents of Maren Booth Paxman, Erik Forbes Paxman, Brooke Porter, Heidilinde Porter Santos (Robert), Samuel Porter, Christopher Vard Porter, and Devin Clinton Porter.
In celebration of Clinton's life, a memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 14, 1994, at 11 a.m. in the Pleasant View First Ward Chapel, 650 Stadium Avenue, Provo, Utah. Friends may call at the Berg Mortuary, 185 E. Center St., Provo, on Wednesday, June 13, 1994, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. or Thursday from 10:00-10:45 a.m. at the Pleasant View First Ward.
In lieu of flowers, friends may contribute to the Clinton F. Larson Creative Writing Scholarship Fund, c/o Dean Randall Jones, College of
Humanities, 2054 JKHB, BYU, Provo, Utah 84602.
Those who love and will miss Clinton offer this tribute to his memory, from his poem, "The Blacksmith's Forge."
Who else could forge the spray
Of novae for our feet where all was splendor
Silken and rococo from his
firm and ample hand?
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