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Faye Clarke has spent a lifetime caring for others through nursing, through political advocacy, and most of all through teaching. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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In her nearly 63 years as a North Haven citizen, Faye Clarke has focused on nursing and politics. But above all, Faye has dedicated her life to teaching.
Though Faye has an extensive history with town politics and a 62-year career as a nurse, Faye says that teaching has always been one of her primary interests.
“My joy was I could teach the student nurses how to bathe babies, but I could also teach them how to teach parents how to teach babies,” Faye says. “I love to teach and I love nursing.”
It took a stroke in 2010 to limit her nursing duties. Even then, she kept working as a registered nurse doing whatever she could.
“Last year was the first time in 62 years I didn’t renew my license,” Faye says. “[W]hen I couldn’t physically do stuff, I still could give people advice.”
Faye says she’s been a nurse for almost as long as she’s been married to her husband, Mike, who proposed to her a week after she finished her four years of nursing school. They started a family quickly and moved to North Haven.
“I really couldn’t work full time….I worked evenings for years and years,” Faye says.
Faye found ways to put together her nursing degree and her love of teaching in town as well. For a time, North Haven schools had a program that had to be taught by a licensed health care specialist for all students interested in the medical field. She taught that course for a while when the person teaching it was injured herself.
For four years, Faye was a first aid leader for the Girl Scouts of America, teaching her scouts the basics of first aid as dictated by the Red Cross. This involved things like how to treat open wounds and how to fashion slings for broken limbs.
“I love caring about people,” Faye says. “When you care about people, it shows.”
With the Red Cross, Faye also helped with blood drives and even served as the volunteer disaster relief chair.
Faye says her first work with disaster relief came when Hamden was struck by a tornado 30 years ago. She was involved with setting up shelters.
Through all of her work as a nurse, teaching girl scouts and working with the Red Cross, Faye says her Christian faith has been important to her success.
“I don’t believe any of the things I do are of me. I think they’re through me,” Faye says.
Her faith guided her to helping with the youth group programs at her church where she found more ways to teach kids from 3rd to 5th grade.
“We would do stuff like…going to synagogue,” Faye says. “The rabbi is just so happy teaching these kids, telling them about where they could find [the Old Testament] in their Bible.”
For a while during the Civil Rights era, Faye was acting director of a program at Faith Methodist Church that would match people from New York City, often Harlem, with families in the suburbs.
“We met this family…you would go with people from each of your churches,” she says. “It was a wonderful, wonderful thing.”
Soon after moving to North Haven, Faye ended up working with the Democratic party and was recently recognized at a Democratic Town Committee (DTC) dinner with several other members of the party.
“When I first started to vote, I was a Republican,” Faye says. “I came to Connecticut registered as a Republican.”
Faye says she came into politics through her work as a PTA president for the now closed Center School. She would go on to serve two terms on the Board of Education with the Democratic party.
“Of course, the Democrats were suspicious of me,” she says. “[But] it wasn’t a long time before I was allowed to be on the town committee.”
Later, Faye even ran for state representative and first selectman. She ended up serving as the third selectman for two years.
“If I see something that is unjust or needs to be done, don’t bother me talking about it. Do something about it,” she says.
Faye’s family raised their own children alongside foster kids, some of whom they ended up adopting. They also welcomed Yale exchange students into their house from time to time.
Between teaching, nursing, and politics, Faye has tried to find ways to help out in the community.
“If there’s something to be done, do it,” she says.
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