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Feb 7, 2016
REDFIELD | Clayton Welke, 97, died Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, at the Golden Living Center.
Clayton Welke was born on Jan. 3, 1919, to John and Alice (Felton) Welke in Spink County. He attended school in Tulare and eventually received his high school degree from Redfield. After high school, Clayton spent six months in the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) in the Black Hills sending money home to help support the family. On Feb. 25, 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army. Clayton joined the 3rd Infantry Division and was heavily involved in major conflicts during WWII. His combat experience began in 1942, with the American invasion and eventual conquest of North Africa. From there they landed in Sicily, Italy, France, and they marched on into Germany and Austria. In May 1945, when Victory in Europe (VE Day) was achieved, Clayton had served continuously for four years and four months in very heavy fighting under the leadership of General Patton. He had a very distinguished record and was awarded numerous decorations. Due to a point system based on his service longevity and distinguished service, he was able to secure his honorable discharge in June 1945.
On June 1, 1946, in Redfield, Clayton married Helen Campbell of Doland. From this union six children were born: Judy Thomas (Jerry), Linda Schmidt, Larry, Chuck (Ellen), Rick (Betty), and Jeff (Nancy). After the marriage they settled in the Tulare area and later in 1958, they moved to a farm north of Redfield. Clayton and Helen were very hard workers making a living for the growing family. Not only did he farm, he also spent 30 years as a bus driver. He loved the children and in recent years he would remark that he missed being on the bus and with the kids. In July 2015, the happy couple celebrated their 69th anniversary with all of their surviving children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Clayton was very service oriented and was happiest when he was helping others. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Lions Club were some of the organizations on which he served. He was also very much a part of 4-H and provided great leadership to his own children and many others. He was happiest when he was helping others. As he moved into the Golden Living Center in July, many there reminded us of how he used to come over on a daily basis to visit the residents. He loved children and always stopped to talk to them or to help them with their bikes. He was a proud American citizen and he enjoyed going to farm and rummage sales as well as the events of his grandchildren.
Clayton was preceded in death by his wife on August 19, 2015; his son, Richard; a granddaughter, Vanessa; a grandson, Joseph (KIA in Iraq 2004); a sister, Maxine; and a brother, Wilbur.
He is survived by his brother, Donald (Joyce); five children; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. CDT Thursday, Feb. 11, with funeral services following at 7 p.m. at Thelen-Hyke Funeral Home in Redfield. Reverend Marty Toepke-Floyd will officiate. A fellowship and luncheon will be held at Leo’s following services.
Burial will be at a later date at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
In lieu of flowers the family would request that memorial be sent to the Clay Kiser American Legion Post 92, the Paul A Schleher VFW Post 2775 or the Redfield Lions Club in Clayton's memory.
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