Sunday 8 November 2009

Tribute to Lake Worth Monster Expert- R.I.P Sally Clarke

Authority on Lake Worth Monster By YAMIL BERARD

BENBROOK — Sallie Ann Clarke created a niche for herself: She became an authority on the Lake Worth Monster, Tarrant County’s answer to Bigfoot that popped out of nowhere in 1969.She wrote a book about it, decorated her house with art of the creature and screened her daughter’s would-be boyfriends by seeing how they reacted to the stories, her daughter Dee Wood said. Ms. Clarke, 80, of Benbrook, died Tuesday after a long illness. Her memorial today is private. The hobby started in the momentous summer of 1969 when couples parked at Lake Worth reported being terrorized by a hairy, scaly 7-foot man-goat beast. News reports said the monster leapt from trees and landed on cars, hurled tires from a bluff and cried at passers-by. Ms. Clarke, an aspiring writer and private investigator, was fascinated and set out to interview those who saw the monster. She wrote a rather tongue-in-cheek book that was published in September 1969. She later regretted the way she wrote the book, her husband, Richard Lederer, told a Star-Telegram reporter in July, because after she published it, she saw the monster herself three times. "If I’d seen it before I wrote the book, the book would have been quite a lot different," she told the Star-Telegram in 1989. "It wouldn’t have been semi-fiction. It would have been like a history." Wood, of Austin, said her mother screened her dates by talking to them about the monster. When Wood was about 16, she said, a young man she really liked came to their house. "When I introduced him to Mother, of course he noticed the Lake Worth Monster stuff around, so they got to talking about it and that was the last of me for that evening," she said. The three of them went to the lake to look for the monster, Wood said. "He sat in the front seat with Mother, talking, and I sat in the back seat, all alone, the whole evening." Wood said her mother was "very strong-willed." "But she also played a lot and was a very sweet, loving and caring person," she said. Most people came to believe that high school pranksters created the monster, or monsters. But Lederer told reporters that Ms. Clarke disagreed. "She offered a $5,000 reward for any person who could pass a polygraph that they were the monster," Lederer said. "She never got a call."

Ms. Clarke worked as a private-duty nurse. After retiring, she and Lederer traveled the country in a motor home, he said. Other survivors include a son, George Lee Robertson; a daughter, Sue Trier; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

YAMIL BERARD, 817 390-7705

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