Clarence William Terry was born to Frank William and Waneta Mae (Hightower) Terry December 24, 1929 in Wheatland, Wyoming. He was welcomed by his only sibling, Wilma Jean Edmundson, an elder sister by two years and an extended family of cousins his age with whom he shared many adventures.
Born at the beginning, and living through the Great Depression, Dad developed a tremendous work ethic and an uncanny ability to make something out of nothing, recycle and reuse things in the most imaginative and often artistic ways. Beginning at 14 years old, with a job on a sheep ranch during the summer months and working at a grocery store after classes during high school, Clarence’s work ethic was noticed around Wheatland, and ultimately landed him a job as a stock man at 17 with Bell Telephone’s Mountain States Tel and Tel. Dad always considered himself a telephone man and was a loyal employee of “Ma Bell”. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the construction and maintenance crews that he worked on, and later supervised, and the many customers and businesses around Sheridan County that he provided long-term services to. He was well-liked, and growing up, it is remarkable how many folks were quick to ask if we were Clarence’s kids during introductions, and we were always proud to respond affirmatively. Many of dad’s dear old coworkers would show up on weekends with their families in tow for brandings, remodeling projects, and some great dinners and conversation afterward. He worked for Ma Bell/AT&T continuously for the next 35 years, starting as a lineman and ending up as a manager.
When Clarence left home at 18 and began training as a cable splicer and lineman, he traveled around Wyoming, making friends wherever he worked. In 1951, he volunteered for the Army in place of a young married friend with children who had been drafted. Dad served in the Communication Corps of the 7th Army, stationed in Boeblingen near the Black Forest, rebuilding the telephone lines in Germany under the Marshall Plan. Dad told us they sometimes strung lines on the cherry trees through some portions as there was a general shortage of materials at times and restoration of communications was imperative. This act of volunteerism and empathy for a young family man, really defined dad’s kind and considerate character. Volunteerism was a core characteristic of our father who continued to serve his community as a 4-H leader and School Board Member until his children were grown and an active Rotarian throughout his retirement years.
A man with hands-on experience and ready to help on any do-it-yourself project, dad had an uncanny way of showing up and making things just a little easier during home construction, or reconstruction projects. Whether it be sheet rock, flooring, electrical wiring, telephones, bookshelves, or general house repairs, the jobs always seemed to go just a little better when he arrived. Much to mother’s consternation, however, he would often stay late into the night to “make good progress” or “just help finish things out”.
Upon discharge from the army, Clarence returned to Wyoming and back to work as a telephone lineman. While working in Jackson Hole, bringing the first phone lines into the remote wilderness at Jackson Lake Lodge he accepted a blind date orchestrated by mutual friends of a lively and beautiful young teacher, Peggy Ann Murray. Falling into a love that lasted until her death in 2020, Clarence and Peggy were wed June 24, 1956 at the little log Chapel of the Transfiguration in Moose, Wyoming.
The young couple transferred to Sheridan, Wyoming and purchased their first home on Lewis Street. They were blessed with three children: Julia Ann in 1957, Murray Lance in 1959, and Michael William in 1961. Clarence could be seen after work racing after the neighborhood ice cream truck to buy an ice cream cone for his children.
Both of our parents loved and longed for the ranch environment and communities that they had been raised in and in 1964 the couple had saved enough for a down payment on a ranch ten miles north of Sheridan, moving the young family into an old ranch house on the Lower Tongue River. Immediately Dad started a log addition that was finished 6 years later. He continued to work for the telephone company while Peggy managed the day-to-day aspects of the ranch. Clarence would swap his heavy lineman boots for irrigating waders or cowboy boots when he returned home in the evening to begin his “second shift.” Clarence and Peggy’s hard work raising cattle paid off and the ranch prospered. In 1979, the couple sold the ranch on the Lower Tongue River to Big Horn Coal, Co. and moved to Ranchester, Wyoming and the R/5 Ranch along 5 Mile Flat. Clarence retired from the telephone company in 1984 to ranch full-time, act as a director to Ranchester State Bank, and travel around the world with Peggy. Notable trips included several visits to friends near Manchester England, a return visit to Germany, following the Rhine River, Australia, and a last trip to Russia, accompanied by many of their family members.
Dad always was a gentleman and a great example for his family. He always maintained a soft spot for young families or people experiencing difficult times. But people from all walks of life tended to gravitate to him because he always took a genuine interest in them. It was always important to him that his neighbors were also his friends, maintaining fences, ditches and lending a helping hand whenever he could.
Clarence lived at Sugarland after Peggy died in 2020, enjoying the society of many old friends and acquaintances and lovingly assisted by the staff there as well as some very special caregivers who became like family. He is survived by his daughter Julie (Joe) Gerlach, sons Murray (Crystal) Terry, and Michael (Susie) Terry. His grandchildren, Heather Gerlach (Mark) Arambel, Elise Gerlach (Jeremy) ZumBerge, Anissa (Chris) Zamzow, Kaitlynn Terry (Brad) Hirst, Rachael Terry (Rich) Cofield and Tom Terry will especially miss him. Clarence’s great grandchildren include Gavyn, Addie and Avery Zamzow, MacCorra Rose Arambel, Tyson and Amelia ZumBerge, and Felicity and Michael Clarence Hirst.
In lieu of flowers, a check in memory of Clarence may be sent to Sheridan County 4-H (Awards) 3401 Coffeen Ave, Sheridan, WY 82801 or Hospice of the Big Horns 1401 W. 5th Street, Sheridan WY.
Funeral Service for Clarence with Kevin Jones presiding, is planned at Grace Anglican Church for July 1, 2023 at 11:00 with lunch and a celebration of life for both Clarence and Peggy following.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.