Clete was born in the small town of Kelly, Kansas to Isabelle and Joseph. He was the oldest of six children. His brother Jerry and sister lovingly called “sis” were twins. Early in his life, they moved several times. By the age of two he had moved 11 different times! His family finally settled closer to more family in Iowa and took up farming. He attended a small country school in Iowa, but as a young child, he suffered a serious case of Pneumonia. This caused Clete to leave first grade. He still recalls being in a Kansas hospital and treatments they tried even though he was only 5 years old. Once completing 9th grade, he left school to work with his family to farm and then later worked for John Deere in Marion, Iowa until 1951.
Clete proudly speaks of his service in the US Navy. He enlisted January 1951 along with his brother Earnie. He jokes that Earnie was assigned to CBs even though he had no mechanical or construction background. Clete was assigned to a little destroyer that held only 300 or so men. He was initially stationed in the Philippians for 8 months which he did not like. At that time, he was on the USS Bisbee which was a patrol ship. He then moved to Japan for thirty days on a Landing Ship Tank while waiting to travel to North Korea. He remembers this was his first time being away from home for Christmas. He loves to talk about his assignment to a destroyer in a squadron of 4. He was part of a 5-man team on gun #4 where he worked with 5-inch guns that shot 54-pound projectiles and back loaded powder. He chuckles that he preferred the back of the ship because those in the front often ended up under water. His time in the Navy allowed him many experiences and stories. He enjoys telling these stories including that of young men traveling in a mail plane while hearing gunshots, being in the bottom of a ship looking out the portholes in 1952 while in a terrible storm, a group of twenty young men on leave who hired a plane to travel throughout the US to drop the guys close to home or flying 50 miles in a land/sea Mast plane. He went on three tours to North Korea before leaving the Navy in November 1954.
Upon return to the United States, he moved with his brothers and a few guys to Gilcrest, CO. He tells a sweet story about how he met his wife Alice at the University of Northern Colorado tennis courts. He and two of his buddies were going to meet up with some gals. He had invited a young lady Pat to join them and she brought her two friends. He laughs that Alice “jumped on me right away”. She told him she wanted to meet him because he was a little shorter. He attended a church in Platteville with his aunt and Alice attended there too. They married in June of 1956 at that church. They raised 5 children in the Greeley area.
He, his father and his brother attempted to open a truck stop in East Greeley but after a year they “lost their butt off”. He was thankful to be hired in Maintenance at the Meadow Gold Dairy where he remained for 36 years until his retirement. Alice worked as the office manager for a potato farmer in LaSalle, CO. They were married 52 years when she passed away. He describes her a beautiful and that he still misses her every day.
If you come to Grace Pointe you have probably seen one of his hobbies displayed in the main lobby. He enjoys model trains and changes the display seasonally. He even has an outdoor display for the courtyard. He also enjoys woodworking. He makes beautiful items using a lathe including pens, pencils and even bowls. After retirement, he enjoyed his favorite pastime of golf. He joined a Seniors golfing club in the Greeley area. He and his friend of 35 years played so much golf that in one year they played 411 times. He laughs when explaining they even played with a little snow on the ground.
We are so thankful to have Clete in our lives. He brings great stories of life to the family of Grace Pointe.