As a kid, doctors cruelly labeled him “developmentally retarded.” But he fought hard against that label, and ended up crossing paths with Guns N Roses, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Joni Eareckson Tada, James Cameron’s Titanic. Oh…and God.
Someone once called Dean Clark “The Patron Saint of Divine Appointments”. For good reason.
When you meet Dean, you can feel it. Something that can’t be contained. It’s contagious (in a good, non-coronavirus way). And if you pay attention, it’ll inspire something in you.
From the very beginning, the world tried to suppress Dean. Put a label on him. Put a lid on him. But something inside this guy fought the labels and the lids.
Dean was born three months premature weighing only 2½ pounds. At birth they found a tumor in Dean’s windpipe and had to perform an emergency tracheotomy so he could breathe! Dean was now unable to make a sound when he cried and spoke.
But true to form, even as an infant, he ended up in the same hospital at the same time as popular author and national radio host Joni Eareckson Tada. 42 years later, Dean ended up on Joni’s radio show.
This was just the beginning of Dean’s Divine Appointments.
Dean was labeled “developmentally retarded” and “unadoptable”. His unwed mother gave him up. But God didn’t. He stayed a total of 13 months in the hospital with no parents and only nurses and doctors to care for him.
Terry and Pauline Clark took Dean into their home, the first of ten special needs foster kids they welcomed. Dean fought to speak. He forced himself to make sounds by pushing air past the tracheotomy tube in his throat.
He went through 14 surgeries. Finally, Dean could talk normally
At the age of 9, the Clarks decided to adopt Dean as their own. But Dean’s mother refused. She pulled Dean from the Clark’s home.
The boy now lived with a family of strangers: his mother, father, and his drug addict half-brother. But God had a plan.
Dean had three stepdads and moved to 14 different places. Through the chaos, Dean discovered the joy of creating art. He also discovered the hustle of selling drugs. He was arrested for dealing at the age of 13.
At 15, the family moved to Hollywood and a Divine Appointment. Dean ended up living in a huge house in the Hollywood Hills. Great new house but one little problem… you can’t walk to school from there! He spent the next year hitchhiking to school every day!
The school was Fairfax High in the early 80’s, alma mater to Motley Crue, Red Hot Chili Peppers and eventually Guns N’ Roses/L.A. Guns.
Dean walked up to a rocker guy the first week of school and introduced himself. His name was Chris Weber and they became fast friends. When Chris found out he lived in the hills as well, he invited Dean up to his house overlooking Mulholland Drive.
Dean and his mom lost the big house and were pulled away from Hollywood in 11th and 12th grade. Soon he got the call that would change his life. Chris called and said “dude, I’m in a band”. He then drove to the Valley and picked Dean up.
Back in Hollywood, Chris introduced Dean to his new band, AXL, which soon became Hollywood Rose, and eventually Guns N’ Roses.
Dean grabbed his camera and took shots of Chris, Axl Rose, and Izzy. Dean’s history-making photos of those early days have been featured in numerous books and magazines, including Rolling Stone.
Once he gradualed from High School, his mom kicked him out of the house.
Around the same time, Chris called and invited Dean to live back in the Hollywood Hills. The Holly Drive house became a second home to the band. They opened their doors to a colorful cast of druggies, groupies, and freaks of all kinds.
Dean watched many of his close friends get hooked on heroin.
Dean was working at a luggage store on Hollywood and Vine when a Divine Appointment walked in the door. 27-year-old Rob Langer was looking for a briefcase.
Rob casually mentioned that he just placed an ad for a “runner.”
Dean asked him, “Would you like to use the phone?”
“Why?” Rob asked.
“To cancel your ad,” Dean replied confidently.
“You just found your runner!”
Rob shot back. “You’re hired!”
Of course, Dean had no idea what a runner was.
He literally walked across the alley into a new life. At 20 years old, Dean was now working in commercial real estate, leasing out the two iconic high-rise buildings at the corner!
On the first day on the job, Rob bought him his first suit and tie. Dean transformed from a spike-haired Hollywood kid to corporate exec. With an office and a secretary.
But Dean’s wonderful break and a knack for business just gave him more money to blow.
After a year of well-funded partying, Dean went to a body-switch movie called Like Father, Like Son, Dean watched 16-year old Kirk Cameron take on the body of a 50-year-old Dudley Moore.
Here was this distinguished surgeon on the outside who was a punk kid on the inside.
He felt God say to him, “That’s you.”
Dean sat there in the movie theatre…disturbed. For the first time in his life, the world finally labeled Dean a “success”. But inside, he still had that awful empty feeling.
A short time later, after thinking it over, Dean went to a party where he announced, “I’m going clean!” Jaws dropped.
Dean started to experience the mystery and wonder of this verse from the Bible:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because
through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of
sin and death.” Romans 8:1
Dean had no idea what this could mean. And no idea how it would change him.
For the first time since becoming an adult, Dean walked into a church. And he suddenly realized…that empty feeling inside him was a hole as big as God. And only One person could fill that hole.
Dean was distraught. How could God ever accept him? He lived this wild, crazy life. If sin was an education, Dean was pursuing his degree. How could God ever redeem him?
When the pastor invited people to come to down front for prayer, something compelled Dean to go. Even though he was tortured with questions and doubts, Dean pushed through.
He was met by a guy who amazingly had a very similar past. He then prayed a simple prayer…
And God proved Dean wrong. So very wrong. God forgave him. Accepted him. As he was. All his sin, all his past, all his darkness, washed away. Dean accepted the gift of Jesus. Suddenly, he felt a huge weight lifting from his shoulders.
And now, that gnawing, haunting hole that dogged him his whole life was no longer empty. Dean was overflowing with something as big as love. As big as God Himself.
He had just experienced his Most Divine Appointment of All.
After this experience, that mysterious verse came to mind again: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
But God wasn’t done yet. He now gave Dean his most beautiful gift besides salvation…Laura. Dean was trying to set up a friend with Laura’s roommate, but there was another plan at work. Laura and Dean ended up at a restaurant alone.
That very night, they both knew. They were meant to be together.
Dean and Laura have now been married for 30 years. Two awesome sons—Jared and Joshua–completed the family.
After real estate, Dean started selling high-end color printers. But something kept drawing him back to creating art—that joy he first discovered as a kid. During his lunch breaks, he taught himself graphic design.
The world of color printers brought Dean colorful clients as well. Like Marlon Brando. Dean ended up in Brando’s mansion on the hill. Turns out Brando needed more than a printer, he needed a graphic designer. And it just so happened that Dean knew one—himself.
He made Brando an offer he couldn’t refuse.
This opened up Dean’s thinking in new ways. And opened up more Divine Appointments. He got his first big break, designing artwork for James Cameron’s movie Titanic. Dean was also commissioned by Graceland to produce the Elvis Presley cookbook: Elvis’ Greatest Hits—Recipes and More from Graceland.
More doors opened. More Divine Appointments. Soon Dean opened up his own digital marketing company, Found Studios, which is now thriving with a growing number of amazing clients. One recent client is the Roberto Clemente Foundation (sponsored by Major League Baseball).
So…how could a guy once labeled “developmentally retarded”, a spike-haired party kid at Hollywood and Vine, end up crossing paths with Guns N Roses, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Joni Eareckson Tada, and James Cameron’s Titanic?
God. No, really.
God had a plan for Dean’s life–a plan that is still unfolding. And God has a plan for your life as well…for you, your family, and your calling.
You can’t email God. But you can ask Him. So…ask Him!
But you can email Dean… Not as exciting as talking with God. But he’s a great guy to talk to—and he knows marketing and graphics in and out. After all, it’s his joy. And he always has a great story for you, if you just ask him.
At the beginning of his life, Dean was unable to speak.
This is no longer any problem at all. Believe us.
And no wonder. You can’t put a lid on this.