Roger M. Goetz Chapter 09

Looking Back

by Roger M. Goetz



On Wednesday morning, December 30, 2009, in the Twin Cities, my wife and I were passengers in the car with Dave and Nancy Anderson, good friends of ours.  Our conversation triggered a memory which I shared with them:

When I was a student at Welch Junior High in Ames, we had a school newspaper in which they occasionally did something with the name of a student.  For me it went like this:
    Roger sees.
    Roger wants.
    Roger Goetz.
The only other one I can remember is this:
   Lyle see.
   Lyle want.
   Lyle Clapp.

The next morning, Thursday, December 31, I received on my laptop an email from our high school class member Kit Struthers, nee Carr.  She was forwarding to our class members an email Jack Smalling had sent her the evening of December 30 about Lyle in the Ames Tribune (Ames, Iowa):

Ames man seriously injured after being hit by car
By Luke Jennett
Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:49 AM CST

An Ames man was seriously injured this morning after being struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Mortensen Road and Coconino Road.

Lyle Clapp, 71, of Ames, was transported to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines after being struck at the intersection by a vehicle driven by Whitney Jean Zimmerman, of Huxley.

Cmdr. Mike Brennan, of the Ames Police Department, said Clapp, a resident of The Rose of Ames, at 1315 Coconino Road, was walking across the intersection to a bus stop, and Zimmerman apparently did not see him.

Police were called to the scene at about 7 a.m. and performed a technical investigation of the collision scene.

I was shocked at this news, especially since I’d been talking about him just the morning before.  About an hour later my wife and I headed for West Des Moines to spend the night there on our way home to Topeka, Kansas.
After supper, I turned on my laptop and received an email forwarded by Kit from Marcia and Bob Stensland, containing the following article from Ames Tribune (Ames, Iowa):

 Pedestrian hit by car dies from his injuries
 By Luke Jennett
 Staff Writer
 Published: Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:41 AM CST

A man who was hit by a car Wednesday morning at Mortensen Road and Coconino Road died from injuries sustained in the collision, police said.

Lyle Clapp, 71, of Ames, reportedly died Wednesday at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street to a bus stop.

According to the Ames Police Department, Clapp, who lived at The Rose of Ames at 1315 Coconino Road, was crossing the street when a westbound vehicle driven by Whitney Jean Zimmerman, of Huxley, struck him.

Zimmerman told police she was unable to see Clapp.

Clapp reportedly suffered blood loss and severe injuries to the head.

A technical investigation of the collision was conducted by the Ames Police Department, but thus far no charges have been brought.

Several days later, I found his obituary in Ames Tribune (Ames, Iowa) and read it with great interest, for I’d had no contact with him since we graduated from high school.

Lyle William Clapp
Nov. 26, 1938-Dec. 30, 2009
Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 11:38 PM CST

Lyle William Clapp, 71, of Ames, died Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, of injuries sustained in an accident at Mortensen Road and South Dakota Avenue in Ames. Visitation will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4, at Adams Funeral Home, followed by burial in Ontario Cemetery in Ames.

Lyle William Clapp was born Nov. 26, 1938, in Ames, to Everett W. and Zola A. (Bechtal) Clapp. He graduated from Ames High School in 1958, and worked for the Forest Service in California from 1958 to 1966, when he returned to Ames.  He was a custodian at the ISU Memorial Union, retiring in 2004.

He is survived by two brothers, Arzy and Garland Clapp, of Ames; two sisters, Charlotte Davis, of Colo, and Fay Olson, of Nevada; and nieces and nephews, Becki Clark, Rusty Davis, Kerri Hapes, Heather Rozenboom, Ethan Clapp, Rick Brown, Tammy Doyle, Justin Olson, Kim Olson, Renee Maloney and Meline Sepps.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother-in-law, Marly Olson; and an infant niece.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to the charity of your choice.

Armed with this information, since I couldn’t pay my last respects to Lyle by attending his funeral, I decided to see what I could learn about the Clapp Family as a tribute to Lyle.

Lyle’s grandfather was William Isiah [not Isaiah] Clapp, born 5 March 1863 in Chardon, Ohio; died 30 December 1951, in Ames, Iowa.  He was married 26 October 1887 in Raymond, Clark County, South Dakota, to Story County, Iowa, native Anna Laurie Hall.  She was born 24 October 1872 in Bloomington, Iowa, and died 1 January 1938, in Ames.  Lyle’s father was the fourteenth of their fifteen children.

The first five children of William and Annie were born in Clark County, South Dakota, in the years 1888, 1890, 1891, 1892, and 1894.  Their sixth child was born in West Boone, Iowa, in 1896; their seventh, in Castlewood, South Dakota, in 1898; and their eighth, in Wadena, Minnesota, in 1899.

In the 1900 U. S. Census, the family lived in Bluffton Township, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, and William’s occupation was given as a common laborer.

The ninth, twelfth, and fifteenth children were born in Ontario (now annexed to Ames) in the years 1902, 1908, and 1917, respectively.  All the other children were born in Ames according the sources I consulted; however, some of the others may have also been born in Ontario as well.

In the 1910 U. S. Census, they lived in Franklin Township, Story County, Iowa, and William’s occupation was given as a laborer doing odd jobs.  In the 1920 U. S. Census, they lived in Lyon County, Minnesota, where William was a farmer.  In the 1930 U. S. Census, William lived in Ames and worked as a janitor at Iowa State.  In the 1936 Ames City Directory, William lived at 224 Washington in Ames and was a laborer at Iowa State.

Everett William Clapp, Lyle’s father, was born 15 March 1912 in Ames (or Ontario), Iowa, and died 31 July 1974, in Ames.  When he was seventeen years old, he made the front page of  Ames Daily Tribune and Evening Times (Ames, Iowa), Saturday, October 12, 1929:

Two Youths Arrested For Disturbing Peace
      Everett Clapp and Willard Martin, both of Ames, were arrested by Ames police about 10 o’clock Friday night west of the big tent on the grounds of the Ames Community Jubilee Agricultural and Livestock show.  The men were charged with fighting and disturbing the peace.
      Judge J. Y. Luke of the Ames municipal court this morning released the two youths with a lecture.  They spent the night in the city jail.

Perhaps this was why the next year, in the 1930 U. S. Census, Everett was a farm laborer in Stanley Township, Lyon County, Minnesota–the same county where they’d lived in 1920.  He eventually returned to Ames, though, and married Zola Arlene Bechtel, who, my researches indicate, was born 21 November 1921; died 18 January 2000, in Ames.  Lyle was their first child.

When we were students at Welch Junior High, I found Lyle to be likeable and friendly, never arrogant or rude.  Oh, he could get angry once in a blue moon, but that was not his usual nature.  Since Lyle was quite a bit taller than I, I usually thought of him as a gentle giant.

During our sophomore, junior, and senior years at Ames High, he went out for track the first two years and football all three.

My favorite memory of him occurred during our junior year.  In one of the classes that we had together, we got a test back and I was stunned to learn he’d gotten a B.  When we were students at Welch, his grades were usually a D or an F.

After class, I asked him, "What happened?  How did you get a B?"

His face wreathed in smiles.  "I finally learned how to read!"

I was absolutely thrilled.

After we graduated from high school, the last time I saw Lyle, he was excited about what the future had in store for him:  he was going to California.  As he turned and walked away, I just stood there and watched him go, feeling sad that he was walking out of my life.  When I could see him no longer, I turned, straightened my shoulders, and went into my own future, wishing this gentle giant well.

Email from Daniel R. McCarthy on Friday, January 15, 2010 at 10:08 PM:

Thanks for the info on Lyle. Great research! He was indeed a gentle giant.
Dan M.

My reply to him was as follows at 11:23 p.m. (my wife and I had just got back from the civic theatre here):

Dear Dan,
Thank you so very much for your email. I have added it to the article on Lyle. I hope others in our class will find something to add to this account of our classmate.  I suspect, unfortunately, he never knew the high regard some of us had for him.  And I also suspect that many in our class never really knew who he was.  There's an old saying that's been around for years that you may have heard: "God doesn't create junk." In my opinion, Lyle is proof of that statement.

Rog Goetz

Email from Louise Thompson on Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 6:50 AM to our class members:

If Roger's memory that Lyle couldn't read is true - how incredibly sad that it wasn't addressed much earlier than his junior year. How different his life might have been had he been a B student all the way through school... I think he was in the great HR113, but aside from a vague visual memory of a really big dark-haired guy with a quiet smile, I can't recall any interactions with him at all.


Louise’s memory is correct.  Lyle was in Homeroom 113 with Mr. Smalling as the Homeroom teacher.

Another email from Dan McCarthy on Saturday, January 16, 2010, at 9:04 AM:


I also remember he was the largest guy on the football team. To gentle to really be a factor.  By today's standards he would be relatively small.


Email from Alex Lykkegaard on Saturday, January 16, 2010, at 9:38 AM:

Roger thanks for all your research . When we were in 10th grade our reserve track team went to Des Moines.  The bus was over weight at the weight station on HW 69; so on the ride home Lyle and the gentle giants rode home in Ken Wells car . Too bad his reading problem wasn't discovered sooner .

Alex L.