As a volunteer firefighter Clark Greis, 51, loves to be at the center of the action. “It’s where I get my kicks, and now I can’t do that.”
On July 24, 2019 he responded to a multi-structure blaze in downtown Boonville, Missouri. Within five minutes of arriving, an explosion caused a 19-foot wooden beam to shoot out, striking and trapping Clark amongst the billowing smoke and rubble.
Life-threatening injuries bring new challenges into Clark’s life. He plays an integral role in the family business, Greis Trucking and Excavating, but now wheelchair-bound, he works from home. Moving toward recovery with the help of his family, Clark hopes to walk again within the next year.
Previously a highly active member of his community, Clark Greis now works from home. “Before this, I used to go at 103 miles an hour, but after it happened, I have to go at minus three,” he said of his injury.
Clark shaves in preparation for an operation to remove kidney stones. According to Clark the operation was successful.
“We are a family with a difference of opinions,” said Clark’s wife Tabitha. Dinner at the Greis household is a space for debate and despite their political disagreements, they have built a strong nuclear family that works together to support one another. “I got a good woman,” Clark said when speaking of Tabitha.
Grease from Clark’s wheelchair stains his hand as he sits in his garage. Before the accident, Clark worked twelve or more hours a day operating the family company’s vehicles. As an active boss, he much prefers being out driving trucks to working behind a desk.
On his first day back at the office after the fire, Clark discusses a project with his younger sister Denise, who has picked up much of the strain since his accident. “I’ve never had a job other than this. I was doing this at eight-years-old,” Clark said.
Clark collects firefighting memorabilia which he keeps displayed in the family home.
Clark’s father, Marvin Lee Greis II, 80, visits him several times a day to keep him up to date with the running of the business. Started in the 1960s by Marvin Lee’s father Marvin Lee I, the organization has grown from transporting groceries to working on construction projects throughout Boonville and beyond.
Clark plays with his dog Duke. Joining the the family as a puppy, he has a strong bond with Clark, who talks to him throughout the day. Now eleven-years-old, Duke’s back legs are failing and Clark gives him painkillers wrapped in home-smoked beef jerky.
“My wife said I needed a hobby,” Clark said of the vintage fire engine which currently sits in his garage. He plans to rebuild the vehicle upon his recovery.
“Everything that’s broken is gonna get fixed,” he said. “It just takes time. I don’t like being down.”