Clarence Wessel

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Clarence Gus Wessel, 90, of Chaffee passed away Sunday, Sept. 18, 2005, at the Lutheran Home in Cape Girardeau.

Clarence was born at Dutchtown Aug. 2, 1915. He was the son of H.W.A. Wessel and Lily Fronie M. Muster Wessel. He was one of 10 children, two brothers and seven sisters. He was baptized and confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church where he remained a member until moving to Chaffee in 1955, where he has been a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church.

He married Charlotte Sophia Gross Aug. 2, 1944, at Zion Lutheran Church in Gordonville. Charlotte passed away July 1, 2002.

Clarence leaves a legacy in Chaffee and surrounding area because of his involvement in church, family, community, school, sports and especially working with youth.

Clarence was a Sunday school teacher at St. Paul Lutheran Church for many years and served as the Sunday school treasurer as well.

He was raised on the family farm and attended Dutchtown School. He attended junior high school at Gordonville. He was a graduate of Jackson High School where he participated in football, basketball and track. He played halfback on the undefeated 1935 Jackson Indian football team, and had a grandson, Todd Wessel, who played on the 1997 undefeated team at Jackson.

He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau with a bachelor of science degree, and a master's degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He did graduate work at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

He then worked at a small arms plant in St. Louis during World War II. He began his teaching career at Chaffee High School in 1943 where he taught junior high and later took the industrial arts teaching position. It has been said often that the determining factor for him pursuing industrial arts was because Mr. Hilpert, his teacher at Gordonville, would send him outside to whittle instead of whittling in class after finishing his homework assignments so quickly.

Clarence left teaching in 1950 and worked construction until 1955 and then came back when Fred Lewallen came to Chaffee. Clarence remained at Chaffee for 33 years of which he was a coach for many years and high school principal for the last 19 years until his retirement in 1981.

While teaching at Chaffee, Clarence was a member of PTA, MSTA, MASP, and was sponsor of several classes. He served on the park board and helped with the management of the swimming pool and ballfield at Harmon Field. He was recognized by Chaffee High School Alumni Association in 2000.

Clarence truly had a passion for baseball. He began playing baseball at the age of 14 and continued playing until the age of 55. He began playing with neighborhood teams and continued playing semi-professional ball when it was thriving in Southeast Missouri until he completed his last full season of catching in 1974.

Some of the teams that Clarence played on were the Gordonville Grays, Illmo Big Bucks, Sikeston Stags, Keller Buddies, St. Louis Muny League, Sikeston Harts Bread, Cape Capahas, Farmington Blues, Perry County League, Cape County League, Bi-State League, Altenburg and Perryville teams, and then on the Chaffee Red Wings.

Clarence was instrumental in organizing the Little League and Babe Ruth summer baseball programs in Chaffee. He assisted in getting baseball back into the high school athletic program in this area. He umpired games in boys leagues, high school, legion, independent and college teams from 1950 until the early 1980s.

He coached high school baseball at Chaffee several years and served as manager of some Little League and Babe Ruth teams when he took several teams to state tournaments. Clarence's nickname "Gus" came about during his playing baseball when he asked other players to call him by his middle name.

Clarence was inducted into the SEMO Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame and was one of the original board members where he served 14 years.

When Clarence was not playing baseball or teaching school, his time was spent with his family. His grandchildren were the focus of his life with many camping trips, outdoor activities and Sunday drives. He enjoyed woodworking, hunting and fishing. He was not only thought of as a great coach, teacher and principal, but loved as a husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.

Clarence is survived by four sons and their families. Surviving children include Jack and Sue Bond Wessel of rural Gordonville, Michael and Linda Cunningham Wessel of rural Gordonville, Terry and Janet Spane Cook Wessel of Chaffee, and Chris and Rhonda Glastetter Wessel of rural Gordonville.

Eight surviving grandchildren include Greg and Kristin Wessel Farmer of Orlando, Fla.,Todd Wessel of Orlando, Steven and Jill Graham Wessel of rural Gordonville, Shawn and Jamie Wessel Nix of Chaffee, Teresa Dunning Wessel of Cape Girardeau, Brad Wessel of rural Chaffee, Brent and Emma Wessel of rural Gordonville; three great-grandchildren, MacKenzie Dunning, Lilly Wessel and Andrew Nix; three stepgrandchildren, Alan Cook and Lisa Seyer of Chaffee, Jill Versemann of New Wells; and six great-stepgrandchildren. A sister, Louise Nussbaum of Cape Girardeau, also survives.

Clarence was preceded in death by his wife, parents, two brothers and six sisters.

Visitation will be after 3 p.m. today at Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel in Chaffee, and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to service time at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chaffee.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, with the Rev. Wayne Schwiesow and the Rev. Karl Leeman officiating. Burial will be in Union Park Cemetery.

Pallbearers include Teresa Dunning, Steven Wessel, Brad Wessel, Kristin Farmer, Jamie Nix, Todd Wessel and Brent Wessel. Honorary pallbearers include Emma Wessel and MacKenzie Dunning.