Originally created 09/07/02

Shooting kills National chef



AIKEN - Police said Friday the longtime head chef of the Augusta National Golf Club was gunned down in an altercation with his son.

James Clark Jr., 61, of Holly Hill, S.C., was killed behind his house at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, according to the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office.

His son, Marvin Douglas Clark, is being held at the Orangeburg County Regional Detention Center. The 21-year-old is expected to be arraigned Monday, the sheriff's office said.

The loss of the veteran chef, who had worked at the golf club for 28 years, was met Friday by regret from those who knew him.

A woman who answered the phone at Mr. Clark's residence Friday and identified herself as his daughter said she was asked not to talk about the case. But she briefly described her father as "the best dad you could have."

Witnesses told police that the incident began when Marvin Clark, who lived at the Old State Road residence, insulted a 75-year-old acquaintance of the family. He had gotten angry because she had refused repeated requests to have her braid his hair.

His father reportedly took exception to what Marvin Clark said and confronted his son.

His mother, Minnie Clark, told police she saw the incident escalate through a kitchen window of their home. She said her son went to the garage and returned with a long-barreled handgun, firing several shots at her husband.

The son then fled.

"He had run into a wooded area," said Charlene Slaughter, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. "We found him less than an hour later about five miles away on Sugar Hill Road."

An autopsy was performed late Friday, but police did not provide any new information about the cause of death.

Meanwhile, family gathered at the Clark home to mourn their loss. The family was still trying to determine a date for the funeral.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Clark and the Clark family," Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson said in a prepared statement.

"Chef Clark was not only a valued and dedicated employee, he was also a trusted friend to our members and the Augusta National staff. He will be deeply missed."

According to The (Orangeburg) Times and Democrat, Mr. Clark had worked at prestigious restaurants in Lake Placid, N.Y.; Spring Lake, N.J.; and Palm Beach, Fla., before being recommended by a friend to work at Augusta National.

Then-President Clifford Roberts apparently was won over by the display of his talents - meals that included beef, lamb and Parisian potatoes.

Local law enforcement officers are still trying to make sense of the shooting. Sheriff Larry Williams expressed his regrets that something as simple as the apparent squabble led to death.

"I am saddened by what I define as a senseless shooting, and I am prayerful for family and friends to carry them through this tragedy," the sheriff said.

Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or eric.williamson@augustachronicle.com.