Rocky’s life celebrated at funeral
BY BOB RAKOW Correspondent January 14, 2012 7:14PM
Pallbearers carry the casket containing the body of Rasul "Rocky" Clark into New Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Robbins for Clark's funeral service Saturday, January 14, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 16, 2012 8:33AM
An emotional Karita Loggins fought back tears Saturday morning as she recalled her close friendship with Rocky Clark.
“He was my heart,” said Loggins, a certified nursing assistant who frequently tended to Rasul “Rocky” Clark. “We were like best friends. I’m going to miss him to pieces.”
Loggins said Clark helped her to maintain a positive attitude and encouraged her to pray for everyone just days before he died.
“I learned to be strong and positive because he never complained. He wouldn’t want anyone to mourn right now,” she said.
Loggins was one of several friends and family members who reflected on Clark during funeral services held at New Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3620 W. 139th St., in Robbins.
Nearly 500 mourners packed the church for the two-hour service. Clark’s casket was draped with his football jerseys, and a framed jersey and photos were placed next to the silver casket.
Clark’s body lay in the church for two hours before the funeral service began at 11 a.m. Interment followed at Burr Oak Cemetery, 4400 W. 127th St., near Alsip.
Clark lived the last 11 years of his life as a quadriplegic after he suffered a spinal cord injury during a high school football game in 2000.
The former Eisenhower High School football player died Jan. 5 at age 27. A family member said complications related to his lungs and kidneys were the cause of death.
The Rev. Vassel Stubbs, pastor of New Friendship, said the service was not designed to mourn Clark’s death.
“This is a homecoming celebration,” Stubbs said. “We are celebrating a life. Amen. We want to say to this family, ‘God bless you. You never know how a person’s life will touch you until they’re gone.’ ”
Deacon Don Grossnickel, who co-founded the Gridiron Alliance with Clark to raise funds for those in situations like his, considered Clark a mentor.
“Rocky Clark’s words have spoken to me,” Grossnickel said. “Didn’t Rocky teach us? Didn’t he show us the way?”
LaVel Hardy, pastor of Gods House of All Nations Church, praised Clark’s mother, Annette, for the dedication she showed her son.
“I’m here, one mother to another mother, to celebrate you,” Hardy said. “You are a phenomenal woman, a phenomenal mother. It was not about your life but the one you gave your life to. You have shown the mothers of today what a real mother looks like.”
“He had a contagious smile because of you,” Hardy said. “He was a fighter because of you. Rocky lived life to the fullest because of you.”
Annette Clark thanked those who supported Rocky Clark over the years.
“I just want to thank you guys. I feel good,” she said. “I’m just proud of my son, so proud, but the Lord has something for him to do.”
“Lisa E.” Finkle, a producer at WGCI-FM (107.5) radio, recalled meeting Rocky Clark shortly after his accident and arranging for him to meet the members of OutKast when the band performed at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.
“He got to meet (the band) and sit on stage with them,” Finkle said. “They brought Rocky right next to them during the entire concert. He was so excited.”