Another tribute to the Great Dr. Robert Clarkson, good history for those that didn't know him well..
This obit came from someone else but it adequately describes my good friend Bob Clarkson,
who will be missed sorely by myself and everyone that knew him. A great man and friend to all he
knew. We spent many good evenings together over a good cigar and a glass of Bourbon. Sam.
R. I. P. Robert B. Clarkson, JD
Robert comes from an old family in the low country of South Carolina and is descended from one of the signers of the Constitution. He was gifted with a keen intellect and had a deep appreciation for the history and heritage of South Carolina.
Robert graduated from Clemson University, and joined the US Army, where he served in combat in Vietnam as an infantry Platoon Leader. After being honorably discharged from the Army Robert attended the University of South Carolina School of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctorate (Law) degree.
Robert had an intense passion for life and a strong sense of what was right and wrong. He took on battles, often against the powerful, including the state and federal governments. He won some fights and he lost some as well - usually spectacularly in either case.
Robert Clarkson, who was wounded in Vietnam and also traumatized by the horrors of war; suffered the rest of his life from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Not well suited to the practice of law and with a proclivity for the cause of the underdog, he was soon disbarred from the practice of law.
To most folks, that would have been a devistating personal tragedy. Robert found it liberating and focused the last 35 years of his life on the work that woukld become synonymous with his name - protesting the evils of the graduated income tax and the unconstitutional excesses of government in general. Robert and his older brother Jim were among the founders of the Libertarian political party in South Carolina and were prominent in that effort for many years. Late in life he also had many friends in the Constitution party and the Republican party.
He had a lifelong interest in spiritual development and eternal truths that led him to found the Church and Seminary of the Holy Word. He was an avid student of comparative religions and gained an in depth knowledge about an eclectic variety of spiritual and religious belief systems.
Known affectionately by his multitude of friends by his initials, late in life, "RBC" will be best remembered as the founder of the Patriot Network, and as the Editor of its publication, the Patriot Cannon.
The Patriot Network became one of the most influential organizations dedicated to teaching citizens how to defend themselves from the excesses of government and assert their constitutionally protected rights. The Network was also one of the longest running organizations of that type and is a legacy carried on today by his former employees.
The Gospel according to Robert Clarkson was always in stark contrasts of black and white without shades of gray. The world consisted entirely of some very evil people, most of whom worked for the IRS, and of decicated patriots battling the evil ones to preserve the liberties of all Americans. His explanation of these things, and his plans to organize the faithful and lead them in battle against evil was euphemistically known as the "Primary Meeting."
Robert held literally thousands of these Primary Meetings all over the United States for almost thirty years. He also trained dozens of others to hold these meetings, authored phamplets, and prepared dozens of slides for overhead projector use in the days before Power Point was invented.
Robert was a true believer who looked at every setback as an opportunity to gain some insight or advantage. Three separate times he was sent to federal prison for tax evasion. Each time he worked tirelessly to build the movement he loved from within prison walls and redoubled his commitment to making necessary changes in America each time he was released. When one of his followers or associates went to prison for "patriot" activities; Robert honored each of them with an "Extra Mile" award as a way of keeping up the morale of his troops and more particularly, of thumbing his nose at the government agency he most despised.
RBC saw all governments, ours included, as inherently evil and therefore to be resisted. For many years he held parties at his house to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, the commemoration of a 17th Century anarchist who attempted to blow up the English Parlaiment by placing barrels of gunpowder in a tunnel dug under the Parlaiment building itself. The plot was foiled and Fawkes was hanged for treason, but Robert found him to be a great inspiration none the less.
You might think an anti government intellectual - literally on the proverbial mission from God - would be either boring or anti-social. Nothing is further from the truth. Robert loved life and he loved people. He entertained guests often; and in his own special style. He was very kind and generous but also carried frugality to often absurd extremes.
He worked to cultivate a personna of the ultimate penny pinching Scrooge. He said, with a wry smile "I am a bit frugal you know" understating the obvious. When a few of his frustrated friends in the 1970's dubbed him "MacClarkstein" alluding to the presumed frugality of Jews and Scotts, Clarkson, who was neither Scottish or jewish, relished the new moniker and wore it as a badge of honor.
One of his favorite passtimes was to invite new acquaintenances to allow him to take them to lunch. You met at his house, got in his car, and as he drove you to lunch, he described the great place he knew and the sumptious feast you could look forward to. Ever the practical joker, he took you to the local homeless shelter to eat donated food in the company of some seriously unwashed masses. To be certain of your embarassment, he usually made a scene on the way out and loudly demanded that the "liberal do-gooders" running the place gave him some bread or other food to take with him. He explained to me once "Brother Allen, these liberal do-gooders need somebody to do something to feel important and I am just helping them out."
He loved a humerous anectode or a good joke, particularly if the butt of the joke was some government agency or left wing politician. In spite of his strong views and passionate way of living his life totally dedicated to what he described as "the cause of liberteee" he had multitudes of friends and admirers and very few enemies. Folks outside his "movement" found him eccentric, but nobody could dislike Robert. He was truly genuine and unpretentious, what you saw was what you got. Mentally, he was an intellectual with a genius I.Q. who could carry on intelligent conversations on any of hundreds of subjects. His anti-establishment views, compounded by his PTSD, manifested in his penchant for dressing like a slob. Robert rarely wore ties, belts, socks, or even shoes in the summer months.
He did take pride in his intellectual accomplishments, encouraging those around him to use the title Doctor he had earned at the USC Law School; and he was proud of his military service and our nations veterans. Robert went out of his way to lend a helping hand to anyone but he had a special soft spot for fellow Vietnam veterans. In 1999 he was awarded the unusual honor of a Life Membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars, paid for by his comrades in arms, as a reward for a lifetime spent selflessly helping other veterans.
He was a loyal member of the VFW Post I once Commanded and the two of us had a special bond that extended to more than just being veterans of combat in Vietnam. When I was married, Robert was the Minister who officiated at the ceremony. When Robert remarried after the death of his first wife, I was the Minister he chose to officiate at his wedding.
Robert was a dedicated family man who loved his entire extended family but he especially cherished his beautiful daughter Caroline. He would pretend to fuss over a shopping trip or school expense; but in reality one of his greatest pleasures in life was being able to provide anything for Caroline.
Robert owned a run down 26 foot sailboat for many years. He named it RUCKUS which was most appropriate because his life and his surroundings were usually typified by one sort of RUCKUS or another and RBC actually thrived on the disorder and chaos.
In the last few years of his life, Robert developed a sort of super-hero alter ego for himself. He would show up at the federal Tax Court, surrounded by his entourage of clients, friends, and disciples, and he would be dressed in an outlandish, oversized, Mexican Sombrero, wearing a cape that was a cross between Dracula and Superman, proclaiming himself to be "The Great One" affecting all the modesty of a Rush Limbaugh. His friends loved it and it drove the IRS up the wall.
Along the way, he did win several major confrontations with his adversaries that actually forced changes in IRS practices and proceedures that now give taxpayers more rights and remedies than was the case thirty years ago.
This past Sunday night my friend for over thirty five years, lost his brief battle with cancer before he could win his long war against the Internal Revenue Service.
He will be sorely missed by his daughter Caroline Hinkelman, his extended family, his thousands of friends all over America - and by me. He was indeed my most unforgettable character; and one of my dearest friends. When you pray tonight, pray for South Carolina; she has lost a giant among men.