Tribute to Clinton

Clinton Klees
08/19/1922 - 12/13/2011

On Dec 13th, my stepfather Clinton passed away. He had suffered a severe stroke on Oct 22nd and finally succumbed to pneumonia and a severe infection. He was 89 years old.

Clinton and my mom were married for 25 years this past September. They were introduced by mutual friends who told mom that Clinton was afraid of women. But he was hooked when they met and they saw each other nearly every day after that. They were married three years later. After his death, mom and I were going through some of his stuff and found a piece of paper that he used to keep track of when he saw her and what they did for the first few months after they met. When he married mom, he stepped from 64 years of bachelor life right into an instant family of three grown kids and two newborn grandkids. I'm not sure he knew what hit him.

Clinton was very active right up to the very end. He was climbing a step ladder and cleaning out the gutters just a few days before his stroke. A few days before that, he had cut the grass. He used a riding mower for most of it, but he still cut quite a bit around trees, sidewalks, etc with a push mower. He was a painter before he retired. A few weeks before his stroke, he spent a week at his church painting the communion rail, window sills, and doors.

Clinton had an excellent, but somewhat silly, sense of humor. It's not often you can associate the word silly with an octogenarian, but he was always doing something silly to see if he could get mom to react. One of his favorite things to do was mix foods. Everything from sloppy joes to potato chips to vegetables was fair game for topping with Cool Whip. He tried taco seasoned ground beef on chocolate cake, BBQ sauce on ice cream, and countless other bizarre combinations that I am unable, or maybe unwilling, to recall at this time.

Clinton loved to count things. For 48 years, he was the financial secretary for his church and spent every Sunday afternoon counting and recording the offerings. He also counted how many showed up for services every Sunday. His pastor looked forward to the head count every Sunday since Clinton would always write it on a note card and then draw a picture of what the weather was like that day and also include an excuse as to why more people didn't show up. Once, Clinton counted the number of cars that drove past the house one day of a homecoming weekend. Ten years later, he could still tell you how many cars passed by that day and he carried the paper he used to count them in his wallet right up to his death.

Clinton also liked to collect things. Actually, it was more that he never wanted to throw anything away. But two of his more interesting collections are baseball hats and matchbooks. He had over 60 baseball hats and over 300 matchbooks.

Clinton hated to have his picture taken. He was known to create a scene at public events if anyone tried to take his picture. So photos of him are scarce. I have a few that I took discreetly, but I'll respect his wishes and not post any here. The only photo I'm going to post is a photo of the sign in front of his church on the day of his funeral. The sign says it all.

Steve Winker