Longtime Routt County resident Clarence Chester Wheeler passed away April 16, 2005, at Weston County Health Services in Newcastle, Wyo. He was 91.
Clarence was born Dec. 8, 1913, near Ansley, Neb., to William C. and Gladys I. Wheeler. The family moved by wagon to the Clark area when Clarence was a child. It was there, next to the old white schoolhouse, that the family homesteaded.
Clarence married Ruth E. Keeler on Sept. 15, 1935. Ruth's parents homesteaded a few miles south of Clark.
The couple ranched near the lower Elk River near Steamboat Springs, where they raised three children, Gladys, Clare and Chester.
Along with ranching and raising quarter horses, Clarence was very active in chariot racing, for which he won several awards. He was the Grand Marshall of the 1986 Cowboys' Roundup Days/Fourth of July Parade in Steamboat. In 1999, Gov. Bill Owens declared the Winter Carnival be held in honor of Clarence for all he'd done.
Clarence was a member and staunch supporter of Routt County Stockgrowers, the Colorado Cattlemen's Association and the National Rifle Association. He was a charter member of the Yampa Valley Cutter and Chariot Racing Association and the Elk River Grazing Association. He was a lifetime member of the American Quarter Horse Association.
Clarence served as brand inspector for many years. He and his brother, Dean, supplied horses for the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp and animals for the first few years of the old Steamboat Jackpot Rodeo.
He plowed snow on Elk River Road with an eight-horse team and helped build what is now Colorado Highway 131 from Phippsburg to where it intersects U.S. Highway 40 near Steamboat.
Riding horseback, Clarence began towing Winter Carnival skiers when he was 19 years old and continued until poor health required him to move from Steamboat.
Clarence loved hunting and always preferred being outdoors, whether it was working cattle or riding and driving horses, his two loves.
In 1997, Clarence and Ruth moved to Fort Collins. They later moved to Lusk, Wyo., to enjoy their later years with their daughter Gladys and her family.
"Uncle Clarence" could be depended on to help with the work to be done, supply a horse for whatever purpose was needed, haul that load of stock to market and to just be that ear to bend or that shoulder to cry on. The cost for his help was a piece of pie and a cup of coffee.
Clarence loved a good joke, and he was known to pull some good pranks. He loved to visit with friends and family and swap stories -- and his were always the funniest. Clarence loved children, who could get just about anything they wanted from him.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Ruth; two brothers, George and Dean; a stepmother, Olive; and a son, Chester.
Clarence is survived by a brother, Glenn; a stepbrother, Paul Smith; two daughters, Gladys Matney and Clare Peek; three grandsons, Greg Matney and Matthew and Edward "Ned" Wheeler; six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
A funeral for Clarence was held April 22, 2005. Interment followed at the Clark Cemetery.