Charles Benjamin Clark was born in Theresa, N.Y. in 1844. His parents were Luther and Theda Tamblin Clark. Charles Benjamin Clark was the future Theda Clark Smith’s grandfather.
In 1855, at age 11, Charles Benjamin Clark moved to Neenah, WI with his mother Theda. Charles’ father, Luther, had died when Charles was 9.
Charles grew through his teen years in Neenah and served in the military during the Civil War. He mustered out of the army in 1865 at age 21 with the rank of Captain and returned to Neenah.
In 1867 at age 23, Charles married Caroline Hubbard (the future Theda Clark Smith’s paternal grandmother) in Neenah. Charles and Caroline had 1 son and 2 daughters.
In 1882, Charles Benjamin Clark, with John A. Kimberly, Havilah Babcock and Frank C. Shattrek, founded the Kimberly Clark Company.
Charles’ and Caroline’s 1st daughter – also named Caroline – grew up in Neenah and married Henry (Hal) C. Peters (becoming Caroline Clark Peters) , and moved to Goshen, Indiana where her new husband was a wealthy businessman. Hal and Caroline resided in a fine, large home on Crescent Street in Goshen, on a hill overlooking the town.
Charles’ and Caroline’s 2nd daughter gave birth to a female child in Neenah on October 18, 1903 and named her Theda Clark after her paternal great grandmother. Theda’s mother suffered a massive hemorrhage during childbirth and unfortunately, died several days after giving birth to young Theda.
The infant Theda was sent by the family to Goshen, Indiana to be raised by her aunt Caroline (Carrie) and uncle Hal in the home on Crescent Street. Theda attended school in Goshen, but returned to Neenah during many of her summers, visiting family there. She then returned to Goshen each fall when school began.
Theda graduated from Goshen High School at age 16. She was the salutatorian of her graduating class. Theda Clark continued here education at a “finishing school” on the east coast. After a year there, she enrolled at Bryn Mawr College.
In January of this year, Theda left Bryn Mawr to marry Carlton Robinson Smith of Neenah, WI. Young Theda had met Carlton during her many summers and other vacations spent in Wisconsin. The couple settled in Neenah and eventually had 5 children. Theda Clark Smith was a very active member of the Neenah community. She served on a number of Boards, as a trustee of Ripon College, and as a Director and President of the Neenah YMCA.
Born into wealth, Theda Clark Smith was very philanthropic, as had been her parents and grandparents. She remained so throughout her life, and her name is well-known throughout north central Wisconsin. Circa Following the deaths of her aunt Carrie and uncle Hal, Theda donated her girlhood home to the City of Goshen.
Goshen City leaders opted to use the home to provide extra support and guidance to some of Goshen’s youth.
In April 1956, The Goshen Boys Club opens in the former Peters house – Theda Clark Smith’s girlhood home – on Crescent Street in Goshen.
With Goshen Rotarians leading the fundraising, the Clark home is razed and a new, 9,000 square foot Club building is erected on the same Crescent Street property in Goshen.
Girls are offered membership and the Club becomes the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen.
In March 1994, Kevin Deary is named President of the Club, whose membership stands at 211 and with an annual budget of $93,000.
In September 1998, even though the Goshen Club was deeply engaged in its own capital campaign (see below), Club leadership established the Boys & Girls Club of Nappanee. The Nappanee Club opened in the former Central School in Nappanee. The Nappanee Club’s first budget was approximately $200,000. Membership there exceeded 100 children within the first month.
1998-1999 – The Goshen Club “Blue Ribbon” Committee raises $3.9 million to build a brand new, 32,000 square foot Club facility, again on the Crescent Street property in Goshen – the 3rd Club building on Theda Clark’s girlhood home site.
The 3rd Goshen Club opens on the former Clark property.
October 2002, with significant support from the Goshen Club, the Boys & Girls Club of Middlebury opens in a former Schult Homes manufacturing facility. The first year operating budget is $210,000 and Club membership explodes to 600 children within the first year.
The Boys & Girls Club of Goshen acquires CampFire U.S.A., renaming the organization KidsCare. KidsCare offers both before and after school programs and services at elementary school sites in the Concord, Goshen and Middlebury School Corporations. KidsCare also operates Camp Koda, a multi-acre property in Goshen at which summertime, day camp programs are offered to children from all Clubs.
October 2007, after raising approximately $3.2 million dollars, a brand new, 22,000 square foot Boys & Girls Club of Middlebury facility opens on the campus of Middlebury Community School Corporation. Approximately 275 children participate each day.
March 2010, The Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart opens with homework help sites at Beardsley, Bristol and Osolo Elementary Schools, and a Teen Outreach Center at Bristol United Methodist Church.
August 2010, full youth development programming is available at The Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart’s Beardsley and Osolo Elementary Schools, with homework help continuing at Bristol. The Teen center is “spun off” to the control of Bristol United Methodist Church.
April 2012, plans are made to offer 2012 summertime programming at The Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart, and to expand services to a greater number of Elkhart children and youth on Elkhart’s north side.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County:
- Operate 4, full-service Club facilities in Goshen, Elkhart, Nappanee and Middlebury
- Offer a full array of youth development programming at two Elkhart elementary schools and homework help only at Bristol Elementary.
- Offer KidsCare before and after school programming at 14 county elementary schools
- Have a total membership of 5,000 children and youth, ages 6 through 18, with 760 participating each day
- Have an operating budget in 2016 of $4 million.