Upward of 450 people, including scores of firefighters and rescue workers from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware and some three dozen American Legion Riders, gathered Friday at Union Baptist Church on Chincoteague for funeral services for Clark, who died at Peninsula Regional Medical Center after taking ill while fighting a raging brush and woods fire near New Church.
His death was the first line of duty death on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in a decade.
Clark was president of Atlantic Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company and was a lifetime member of both Atlantic and Chincoteague volunteer fire companies.
Clark was remembered as one of "a very special breed of people" -- firefighters -- who "charge in where angels fear to tread" in a eulogy given by the Rev. Bob Reese, who officiated along with the Rev. Maurice Enright.
"Hal died liked he lived -- loving, helping others," Reese said.
Enright said Clark will be remembered as "the mechanic, the carpenter, the 'Mr. Fix-it,' the cook -- there was so much he could do and so much he would do" for those in the community, such as the time when he and fellow firefighters built a wheelchair ramp at the house of an Atlantic man who needed one.
Among the many charitable deeds Clark was known for were cooking at the annual Chincoteague Volunteer Firemen's Carnival and transporting drinking water to the Chincoteague ponies when they needed it during the hot summers, Enright said.
Despite his own grief after tragically losing his son, Todd, in an accident 11 years ago, Clark continued to give to the community, both as a firefighter and in many other ways, the minister said.
After the 45-minute service concluded, Clark's flag-draped casket was carried atop Atlantic Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company Engine 4-5, preceded by a single motorcycle rider, in a funeral procession that wound its way 12 miles across the Chincoteague causeway from the church to the John W. Taylor Cemetery in Temperanceville.
The procession -- which included dozens of firetrucks and ambulances draped in black bunting along with police cars, government agency vehicles and private cars -- left Chincoteague Island under an arch created by the crossed ladders of two fire trucks parked at the foot of the drawbridge, one from Chincoteague and one from Salisbury, with a large American flag hanging from the apex.
Fire and rescue departments represented in the procession came from as far away as Greensboro, Md., Ocean City and Dagsboro to the north and Virginia Beach and Hampton to the south.
A crowd including many families with small children and people standing respectfully at attention gathered at the intersection of Chincoteague and Atlantic roads to watch the procession pass by, a process that took some 20 minutes.
Clark was laid to rest at the cemetery with full firefighter honors.