Birsan I. Clark

Birsan I. Clark died at her home in Salem on October 17, 2015 succumbing to cancer after a lengthy but private struggle. Birsan was a proud American of Turkish origin. She came to America for college at William Smith. She later pursued a graduate degree in art history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where her interests were Italian Renaissance painting and Ottoman textiles. She then established Tribal and Decorative Rugs on Charles Street in Boston, specializing in Turcoman tribal rugs and Ottoman embroideries. She had a connoisseur’s eye and dealt only in textiles of artistic merit. She was a poet and author in English and Turkish and a voracious reader in both languages—fiction, poetry, history, physics (especially the mysteries of gravity). She was a life member of the Boston Athenaeum, where her love of learning flourished and where she joined the poetry workshop. Her passion for the natural world was abiding: she hugged venerable trees; she swam with whales. She loved the city life in her native Istanbul, which she explored with youthful exuberance; and she treasured her extended Turkish family and her classmates from the Uskudar American Lycee, who have established a fund in her memory. Birsan prepared extraordinary feasts—and a wholesome Turkish breakfast—with graciousness in the beautiful home she created. She leaves her two children, Sean and Leyla Keough, two grandchildren, Lindsey and Sinan, her brother Ferruh Iskenderoglu and her husband of thirty-two years, Stephen H. Clark. To leave a condolence or share a memory, please click below.


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