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Yvonne Theresa Clarke

NORTH CANAAN — Yvonne Theresa Clarke of North Canaan, model, actress, artist, doll collector and wildlife rehabilitator, died peacefully on April 11, 2019. Her husband and high school sweetheart, Victor Samuel Clarke, in 1998 predeceased her.

Yvonne was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1930 the only child of Robert and Corina Dearduff. 

An artistic woman with a wide range of talents and interests, Yvonne left her home in Hartford to pursue a career in modeling and acting in New York. She became a successful model for the Ford agency, appearing on numerous magazine covers, print ads and illustrations. 

She was a finalist for the Miss Rheingold contest in the mid 1950s. 

Yvonne returned to Hartford where she became a member of The Mark Twain Masquers, participating in several productions including leading roles in “Gigi” and “Finian’s Rainbow.”

Yvonne was also a talented artist, well known in the area for her portraits and landscapes. In her early 50s she enrolled in Albertus Magnus College in New Haven for a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and graduated with honors. 

Yvonne, an avid doll lover and collector, started the Country Doll Shop at the family home. It was a magical place filled with rare collectible dolls and a wild variety of bears and plush animals. 

Perhaps Yvonne’s greatest passion was that of a lover of animals. She became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the State of Connecticut. The DEP would send baby and injured animals to Yvonne, knowing that they were placed in tender care. As a result, the house and barns were filled with a delightful array of baby birds, deer, raccoons, skunks, baby deer and possum. 

After her husband passed away, Yvonne moved to Arizona for a decade but decided to spend her last years back in Connecticut. Yvonne is survived by her two sons, Stephen W. Clarke and Mark R. Clarke and their wives, Stephanie Blackwell and Jenifer Clarke; her grandchildren, Jessica Clarke, Nicholas Tamburro, Andy Clarke, Stephanie Magyar, William Clarke, Bridget Sayler and Joseph Clarke; and seven great-grandchildren. All of the relatives mentioned above are sincerely grateful to her former daughter-in-law, Sandra Gomez Oliver, who oversaw with great care and compassion Yvonne’s final years.

In memory of Yvonne’s love of animals, donations may be made to the Little Guild of Saint Francis in West Cornwall: www.littleguild.org.

Arrangements are under the care of the Newkirk Palmer Funeral Home in North Canaan.