Private Family Service
Date: Thursday December 31, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm
Recording of service
Copy & paste the link below into your browser to view a recording of the service on the Macken Funeral Home Facebook site.
Saturday, December 19, 1925
Date of Death:
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
95 years old
Clarence Dangler – Rochester MN and Rochester NY
Passed away peacefully December 23 at age 95 at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, John and Mary, in Rochester MN, where he resided for the past 9 months.
Predeceased by his beloved wife Ruth; his sisters, Marion Wallace and Ellie Shannon, and brother Edward Dangler.
He is survived by his children Paul (Mary), Janet (Brian) Lavell, John (Mary), and Elaine (Darrell) Pardi; grandchildren Christopher (Heather), Julie, and Mark (Melanie) Dangler, Emily (Daniel) Cooper, and Ryan, Amanda, and Lauren Pardi; great-grandchildren Sierra, Orion, and Olive Dangler; and many nieces and nephews.
Clarence was born at home in Rochester NY in 1925, the third of four children of Clarence J. and Helen L (Barker) Dangler. They resided at 9 Arklow Street, directly across the street from the home of his maternal grandparents. The family attended the nearby St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, and Clarence attended grammar school there. In grammar school, he learned to play the harmonica – a skill that he maintained throughout his life.
He was a member of the Aquinas Institute High School class of 1943. Like almost all members of his high school class, he served during WWII, enlisting in the Army Air Corps in early 1944 soon after he turned 18. In the six months between his high school graduation and enlistment in the Army, he worked at his father’s jewelry store in Rochester.
Upon enlisting, he trained at several locations in the States before being deployed to Saipan in March of 1945 with a B-29 combat aircrew. His role as part of an 11-man aircrew was to be one of two side-gunners on the plane that was nicknamed “The Idaho Spud”, because the Aircraft Commander was from Idaho. Clarence was the youngest person on the crew at age 19.
The crew flew together on 30 bombing missions over Japan. On their 6th mission, the plane was heavily damaged by flak, although they successfully made the long flight back to Saipan. Clarence kept a piece of flak metal that came in to the cabin just in front of him. On another mission, they landed at Iwo Jima on the way back to Saipan. Clarence later remembered being most grateful for the Marines who had recently captured Iwo Jima so that it could be an emergency landing site for B-29’s returning from Japan. In the weeks following the Japanese surrender, the crew flew three additional missions, dropping supplies to POW camps in Japan and Shanghai, China.
To the best of our knowledge, Clarence was the last surviving member of that crew. Fewer than 2% of all WWII veterans are still alive at the end of 2020.
Returning to Rochester after the war, he resumed working at his father’s jewelry store at 732 South Avenue. In 1951, he married Ruth Heil, who was introduced to him by his sister Ellie, as she and Ruth were co-workers at a bank. They lived for four years in a small apartment that his parents owned behind the store, until building a house just outside the city at 229 Doncaster Road in 1955, which would be home for the next 50 years. His good friend from high school, Tom Mulhern, was the builder. Clarence and his father did much of the interior finish carpentry work.
Clarence worked at Dangler’s Jewelry Store until his father passed away in 1963. He continued to run the store until it closed in 1972. He then worked for Eastman Kodak Co. in the Camera Repair department for 14 years before retiring.
Clarence and Ruth were longtime members of St. Anne Church in Rochester, NY. They were active in several church and school groups there, and all four children attended the elementary school. He also enjoyed family activities. On Wednesdays, the store would close at noon, and the family would often head to Letchworth Park for swimming in the summer. There was also an annual family vacation week at Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks, returning each year to the same cottage. In the summer, Clarence would golf once a week with friends. He began downhill skiing with Ruth in the 1940’s and continued until he was 70. There were also Dangler and Heil family reunion picnics and holiday-time progressive dinner parties. Later, in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, he enjoyed attending activities involving his four Rochester NY grandchildren.
After retiring in 1987, he and Ruth traveled to places they had never been, going to California and Hawaii with tour groups, and visiting relatives in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota, where two of his children now lived. In the nice weather, he did some bike riding, and joined a Kodak retiree golf league. In the winter, he and Ruth took up cross-country skiing.
Starting in the mid-1990’s he provided an increasing level of care at home for Ruth as she developed Alzheimer’s. Only in the last year before her death in 2004 did she move to a nursing home, when she needed more care than he could provide. He continued daily visits and care throughout her time there. For those who knew him during that time, his care for Ruth was one of the most beautiful expressions of his love for her.
At age 79, he had a knee replacement. That marked the first time in his life that he had ever stayed overnight in a hospital.
In 2005, he decided to move to Minnesota so he could spend more time with John and Mary, and Elaine and Darrell, and his younger Minnesota-based grandchildren, who were in elementary school at the time. In his first real estate transaction in 50 years, he sold the house in NY and bought a townhouse in The Greens in Rochester, putting him within walking distance of both John and Elaine’s houses. He attended church at Holy Spirit parish.
Later, he resided at Shorewood Senior Campus, and then at the Assisted Living section of Madonna Towers. He continued to ride his bike outdoors until age 90. He enjoyed listening to concert music, and for a time he joined in with a singing group at Madonna.
And then there was ping-pong. Somewhere along the line, he had picked up that game. He wasn’t sure exactly when he learned it, but he was pretty good. There was a table in the basement at the house in Rochester. He would play with his children and grandchildren. In his 70’s, he played a bit at a club in Rochester NY. In his 80’s, he played at the Senior Center in Rochester, MN. The family donated a table to Madonna Towers, and he played there until age 94.
When his health began to deteriorate in early 2020, he was briefly in a nursing home. The limitations on visitation were very difficult for him and his family. The decision was made in March to move him to John and Mary’s home. With good family care, he had an enjoyable spring, summer and fall, even spending two weeks with John and Mary at their lakeside cottage in Wisconsin. He enjoyed occasional walks around the neighborhood, games of Uno or Yahtzee, visits from local and out-of-town children and grandchildren, and FaceTime visits, including with his third great-grandchild who was born in June.
He will be remembered for his warm smile, positive outlook, his quiet, gentle nature, his love for his children, grandchildren, and extended family and friends, and especially for his devoted care for Ruth for many years. Clarence and Ruth always liked to say ‘family is forever’.
His passing is truly the end of an era for the family, as all of his sisters, brothers, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law in both his family and Ruth’s family pre-deceased him.
The family would like to express their gratitude for the care and support provided by Mayo Clinic, Madonna Towers Assisted Living, Mayo Hospice, and Home Instead.
A private funeral service will be celebrated in Rochester, MN on December 31 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time. A video link to the service will be available at: www.mackenfuneralhome.com
Private Interment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Rochester, NY. A memorial celebration will be held in NY at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to:
Aquinas Institute www.aquinasinstitute.com/give-to-aq/make-a-gift
Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, NY www.ssjrochester.org/Default.aspx?RD=4903
Brighter Tomorrows of Rochester, MN www.brightertomorrowshope.org/donate/
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The family of Clarence Dangler has received the following condolences.
Rest in peace, Mr. Dangler. You were a wonderful man, loved by all. You had a beautiful smile. Love, LuAnne, Gary and Jake.
God Bless our Aquinas Brother.
Sorry for your loss