In Memory of Samantha Clarke

Ultra Vires has solicited letters and notes in memory of Samantha Clarke, and collected them here. If you would like to submit something to be included on this memorial page, please email us at ultra.vires@utoronto.ca. We will continue to update it as new letters are submitted.

My memory of Sam begins with her in my Torts section in first year.  From the beginning, it was apparent that she had a lively inquiring mind and a thoughtful approach to the law and to life itself.  Her comments in class were always thought-provoking and insightful.  I also remember laughing with her after the December exam.  She came to see me because, like lots of students, she couldn’t read my handwriting!  After I helped her puzzle out my scrawl we had a good talk about law and about life.

I lost track of Sam a bit after first year and when I heard what had happened, like others I felt regretful that I hadn’t kept in closer touch with her.  Meeting her wonderful family and friends at her funeral also made me aware of the larger life that Sam had led.  Listening to the stories of her musical gifts, her acting talent and her obvious intelligence and warmth left me wishing that something could have been done to keep Sam’s wonderful spirit in the world for much much longer.

We will all miss her.

Mayo Moran

I remember Sam as someone who would meet you with a smile, who made it easy to just take a seat even if you did not know here well.

Sam and I began knitting at the same time. We shared our joy at discovering this wonderfully calming activity. However underrated by our peers, we knew we had struck hobby gold.

I remember her sitting in the Rowell room, happily working away on one of those “this is a new hobby” projects. I think it was a scarf of some sort, with awkward edges, and loops of unintentionally varied size. Then months later, there she was in the Rowell room, with a lovely shawl spinning out from those fingers.

Happily knitting away and chatting with friends. That’s the Sam I remember.

Anna Cooper

I met Sam in the first year of law school. We were both interested in the JD/MBA program and had met a few times at events here and there. Both of us volunteered with the “Lawyers Feed the Hungry” program, which is a soup kitchen staffed by lawyers and other legal professionals. It was a chance for both of us to help the less fortunate and get a retreat from the pressures of first year law.

First year was a difficult time for almost everyone in law school. Towards the end of the first term, we were all stressed about doing well on exams, and studying long hours. Even still, Sam managed to come out and volunteer – I know this lengthened her daily commute and cut into her study time, as she was staying late in the city to volunteer. At this challenging time, when all the other student-volunteers appeared exhausted and worn down, Sam carried her beautiful smile while she helped Toronto’s neediest people.

I didn’t share any classes with Sam and I didn’t share any extra-curricular activities with her beyond volunteering. What I came to know of her through “Lawyers Feed the Hungry,” though, was impressive. She was one of about five students accepted into the University of Toronto law program from the third year of an undergraduate program. She had been an actress and was quickly picking up knitting. It seemed there was little she couldn’t do.

It was too bad that I didn’t get a chance to know Sam better after I left law school and Toronto in 2011. The Sam I met in first year was an energetic, compassionate and intelligent person. She will be missed.

Chris Codd

On IMDb.com, there is a film short called “Orange Sarong”.  In it, a businessman watches a woman in an orange sarong on a nearby boat.  He lapses into a reverie and imagines he is meeting her, before he snaps out of it and realizes he has not, that everything was a dream.  The woman in this film short is Samantha Krystle Clarke, in her previous professional incarnation as an actress.

Since hearing the news on Thursday, I have hoped to wake from a dream, like that businessman, and realize that none of this has actually happened.  But it has: Sam is gone.  The woman who was such a vibrant presence in my first-year section, the striking beauty who had hoped at one time to become a JD/MBA and an entertainment lawyer, is gone.  This is no dream: she is not coming back to us.

Like many who knew her in 1L, I did not know how Sam was doing at U of T this year.  I was busy – we all are busy – and the regular social rhythms of first-year are broken up into the atomized specializations of upper-year coursework.  I did not bother to check up on her, see how she was doing.

I wish I had.

Ben Sharma

I met Sam during the early part of 1L. She was sitting in the Rowell Room knitting – this was a constant, throughout my year knowing her she was always knitting. I don’t know how to describe Samantha. I could use an endless list of adjectives – she was sweet, fun, brilliant, unique, exciting – and they’d all be true, but they also sting my ears as empty, hollow. Words without context, mere platitudes. They don’t describe who she was. They don’t tell you that she had spent years in Hollywood, chasing her dream of acting before coming back to Toronto and enrolling in law school. That she wanted to become an entertainment lawyer. That she wanted to do the JD/MBA, but because she had gone through such a unique path before arriving at law, she didn’t have the prerequisite four-year degree for Rotman.

A short illustration. In the middle of 1L, I got dumped hard by my girlfriend at the time. For a few months, I was a complete mess, an utter human wreck. And I remember, out of the blue, bumping into Sam in the hallway. She asked me how I was, and I gave her a rehearsed fine. She gave me a cockeyed look and I ended up pouring my heart out. I repeated this performance over the next few months on Skype with her and she always listened. Because that was who Sam was – a wonderful girl who you could open up to without fear of being judged, and who genuinely cared.

When I went into my second year, the MBA program took its toll and we drifted. I wish we hadn’t. I don’t know what she was going through over the last few weeks. I wish I did. My prayers go out to her and her family, because in a word, Samantha was wonderful.

Jonathan Bega

To Sam’s parents:

There is one thing that struck me about your daughter and that was that she walked as if she had received training in walking, like models do, as a matter of fact that is what prompted me to want to talk to her. I thought to myself, wow! a model in law school. She had the looks. She had the hair and she had an air about her. I recall the day I formally met Sam. It was in LPPE class. She sat in front of me. I noticed a tattoo and asked about it and before long we were talking about walking: L.A., movies, acting, law school and business school.

Over time, our friendship grew to the point where she would call me asking if she could crash at my place, sometimes very late at night. She never did. She sometimes shared with me why she needed to. I suppose our career paths took us in separate ways second year so I saw her less often, though when I did, she had the same walk, a large bottle of water in her arm and that air about her.

I heard the news on the other side of the world. A friend phoned me asking me if I had read the email regarding Sam’s passing. Given how I felt upon hearing the news, I cannot imagine what you must have gone through. The school’s newspaper posted a candid picture of Sam smiling. That is how I will remember her, smiling.

My deepest condolences,

Diego Beltran

I knew Samantha before either of us came to Law School. I met her back in 2008; we were both hired as insurance brokers by Grey Power and were placed in the same training group. She struck me as someone who was smart, driven and extremely hardworking. I remember while everyone was studying for the insurance licencing exam, Sam was studying for both the licence exam and the LSAT at the same time! Any spare time she would have, her nose would be in the books. She was a work horse.

I shared some great experiences with Sam at Grey Power: passing the licence exam, surviving training and dealing with “difficult” clients. It was a very stressful job, but Sam never let it get to her. She always had a warm smile and handled the pressures of the job with grace.

Sam was a few years older than me and was already at U of T when I started the studying for the LSAT and doing my law school applications. She was always willing to answer any question I had and helped me greatly.

This fall, I saw Sam for the first time since the Grey Power days. We had a quick chat as she was getting coffee by the Rowell room and said (like all old friends do) that we should meet up sometime later and catch up. Sadly, we never did.

Sam’s death was a shock to me, I could not imagine someone so full of life and potential be taken so suddenly from this world. I will remember Sam for her warmth, kindness, smarts, incredible work ethic and amazing smile. She will be missed.

Joseph Guiyab