the life of
Willard L. DeClue (senior) by Tom DeClue
THE EARLY YEARS
Willard L DeClue the senior
was born on Jan 30, 1903 in Potosi, MO. Our family, as are most DeClue's, has its ties to the
Duclos descendents who settled originally in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. A quick search on DeClue
in any people finder will show that most of the DeClue's in the United
States still reside in this region.
Willard's mother died when he was 4 years old
and he was raised by his stepmother and father, but due to a difficult
relationship with the stepmother he left home in Potosi at the age of 17
to join the Navy. He served shortly after the end of WW1. He related many navy stories to me during the years 1971-1976 when I lived
with them while going to college. Although it has been many years, I still
recall a couple of the stories described below.
On one occasion while serving on the battleship USS Wyoming the crew was
paid in gold coin because the ships Treasurer had run out of paper currency
while overseas. This must have been one of the last times an American
was paid in gold since President Wilson created the Federal Reserve System
shortly after this.
On another occasion the ship's Captain turned out to have a "Captain Bligh's"
leadership style. The demands, schedules, and lack of shore leave
took its toll on the crew and so they conspired to make a statement to
the Captain's superiors when they returned to their home port. They
would all shave their heads! Well, it just so happened that Willard
was separating from the Navy and planning to get married shortly after
their arrival, so the rest of the crew spared him the haircut. The
bald heads got the attention they wanted and that was the last ship that
"Capt. Bligh" would command.
THE WORKING YEARS
Willard married Grace, who
also was from Potosi and who he knew before enlisting in the Navy.
He was also helped in obtaining a higher education by a relative.
This relative paid for Willard to go back to school and obtain a degree in accounting. He then went to work for the Armour Star Company. His
work with the Armour Star Co. took him to Detroit, MI. It was in
nearby Highland Park, MI where Willard Jr. and Joseph were born.
He was then transferred to Lakewood Ohio where Robert was born in 1934.
Willard was transferred to Boston, MA in 1942. The three boys later
got married in the Boston area and this is where their families took root.
In 1959 Willard was transferred again, this time
to Williamsport, PA. They were in Williamsport for perhaps 4 years
when he was transferred again to Sheboygan, WI. Willard retired out
of Sheboygan as a credit manager for the leather division of Armour Star
Co in 1967.
THE RETIREMENT YEARS
At retirement, Willard
and Grace decided to move to the Red Rock country of Sedona, AZ.
They had an adobe brick home built in the Sedona West subdivision
(107 Mogollon Dr) with spectacular views of the Mogollon Rim and the Coffee
Pot rock formation. While I was in High School, they offered me the
opportunity to stay with them in Sedona if I wanted to attend Northern
Arizona Univ. In 1971 I was accepted to Northern Arizona University
(NAU) and I chose to take them up on their offer. I attended
NAU from 1971 to 1975, and lived in their home as a freshman and sophomore.
In 1973 I received a ROTC scholarship which allowed me to move onto campus.
I graduated from NAU in 1975 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in
the USAF through NAU campus ROTC, Detachment 27.
Due to failing health in 1990 Willard and Grace
sold their Sedona home and moved into an assisted living facility in Cottonwood,
AZ. This arrangement however, was not to their liking and they moved
in with their son Joseph in Orange County California about a year later.
Following a surgery in 1993, Willard's health began to deteriorate rapidly
and he died on December 12th of that year. In 1993 Grace fell and broke a hip.
As a consequence, her medical condition was more then Joe and Marge could
manage and Grace moved into an assisted living home where she could receive the care she
required. Grace died rather suddenly in January 1998. Both
Willard and Grace are interred in the Potosi, MO cemetery.
Tom DeClue WL DeClue Streamlined Family Tree Link
ps. if you've read this far, and you want to see a more detailed W.L. DeClue family tree you may access it manually. To provide privacy protections from the auto web search engines, I do not have a link. However, if you type or cut/paste into your web browsers address line: "www.declue.org/DeClue_tree_a/wl_declue_tree_a.htm" you will be taken to our family's tree.