Meet my amazing friend Clyde Jones — C. Clyde, aka Clifton Clyde. Today (Wednesday, December 21) is his ***100th*** birthday. 🎊🎉🎂
You read that right.
This young man, who’s a friend to literally everyone, has been on Facebook for years. He has more FB friends — 3,390 — than most. I see photos of Clyde with friends and admirers every (no exaggeration) time I look at his feed.
Clyde and I are both native West Virginians who have never met in person. We’ve known each other since I first contacted him by email in February 2012 to see if he might, by some long-shot chance, have known my birth mother Betty during his growing-up years in Huntington.
After finding my older siblings in 2005, I spent a number of years intermittently trying to find folks who knew either Betty or her first husband Bob, my birth father, to see if they could share any memories with me. As it turns out, Clyde, whose recall and sharpness remain remarkable, didn’t know Betty, but the ingredients were there for them to have been at least acquaintances during childhood.
Betty was born July 22, 1921, and Clyde on Dec. 21, 1922. Clyde graduated from Huntington High School in 1940, and from what I learned through Betty’s academic records that I obtained, her schooling had gotten off-kilter at some point, putting her on track to graduate the same year. But Betty left school halfway through their sophomore year in December 1937 and went to work.
As I reached out to Clyde and several other men by email 10 years ago, I mentioned a few members of the Class of ’40 whose names I’d found after unbelievably stumbling across a 1938 HHS yearbook at Jim’s Spaghetti House, a beloved restaurant in Huntington, on a trip there in 2011. Even more incredibly, I had spotted what I thought was Betty (and later confirmed) in a photo of her homeroom and managed, through internet searches, to find a handful of those classmates still living. I called them to see if they remembered Betty. Alas, none of them did.
Clyde not only recognized several of the names I mentioned but recalled specifics about them, and he listed other names from his graduating class as well. When he saw photos I emailed of Betty, he complimented her beauty and wished he had known her so he could help me.
But because of our West Virginia and Huntington bonds, we struck up a lengthy friendship through a series of emails, a later phone call and our Facebook connection. He also shared with me a life history he’d written up to give to his family — at least through 1946.
Clyde joined the U.S. Naval Reserve soon after Pearl Harbor while attending Marshall College in Huntington, then saw active duty in the Pacific later during the war. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1953 with a degree in American history and a minor in economics. Clyde and his family moved to Manhattan, Kansas, in 1960, and he was the first and longtime dean of Kansas State University’s business school before retiring in 1986.
Mr. Jones met his dear wife Midge at a party in 1944, they married in 1948 and were united for six weeks short of 68 years when she passed away in May 2016. They raised three wonderful children: daughters Karen and Kristin and son Clif. Sadly, Karen died of cancer in 2004. I’m not sure how many grandchildren Clyde has, but as of September 2021, he had 19 great-grandchildren!
You’d think someone in his 80s, much less approaching 100, would be slowing down and not able to really be involved in his community. But Clyde has continued to be a big part of what makes Manhattan special, including his role since 2005 as development officer of Shepherd’s Crossing, a ministry of churches that aids area residents needing financial assistance and other support. For 11 years, the C. Clyde Run/Fun Run/Walk has benefitted the organization and its numerous vital causes.
I’m sharing this Facebook video that a friend of Clyde’s posted in which he recites many of the words that Clyde’s first initial C. stands for to describe the tremendous human being he is. From everything I know of Clyde, these are all so appropriate. He is beloved, respected and admired by vast legions, not only in Manhattan and not just in the Kansas State family.
Happy birthday to you, my fantastic friend. May your bright smile and friendly, gracious ways grace us all for a long time to come. We love you. 💜