Clarence Walsh

Clarence Walsh

Clarence Patrick Walsh, age 95, died on Thursday, January 6th.

He was born at home in Plain, Wisconsin to Clarence H. and Theresa (Meister) Walsh on October 5, 1926. Home births were common on “The Ridge,” and a midwife helped with the delivery.

Known as “Junior,” as the oldest child he had numerous duties with the family farm and bar business. One of the most interesting was his recollection of keeping watch during Prohibition for cars coming down the driveway that might belong to the police and not to a customer for the moonshine still in the barn. Dad attended the Loreto School, a one-room schoolhouse near Plain. While in high school, he was known for his exploits on the boxing and football teams, and a few misadventures we’re sure he’d rather his children never heard about. Having had rheumatic fever as a child with its ensuing heart damage, he was not allowed to enlist to fight in WWII. His friends were going, and as the son of a WWI veteran, he was particularly distressed. His parents tried to console him by giving him the family tavern, Walsh’s Bar, to manage.

After deciding he was not fated to be a barkeep, he followed a friend to work at Oscar Mayer in Madison, where he worked for many years. He was quickly singled out for his leadership skills, first as a union steward, then as a supervisor at the plant. While working there, he met the love of his life, Josephine Giusti, a pretty Italian girl from Madison’s Greenbush neighborhood. He taught her all about hunting and coonhounds, and to her great credit, it didn’t scare her off too much. She saw the adventure in it and him, and they eloped to Dubuque, Iowa.

After having their first three children in Madison, he decided he wanted to raise his kids in the country and relocated his family to a large farm near Columbus, Wisconsin, where he lived until his death. For a while, Dad tried to combine a full-time job at Oscar Mayer with being a gentleman farmer, raising pigs, beef cattle and chickens, as well as working the farmland. Such was his work ethic. When this proved impractical, trucks backed up to the barn, and the pigs and cows were history.

Dad’s great joy in life was hunting, whether it was deer hunting with the McCarville Gang on the Ridge, or bird hunting with one of his favorite dogs in a nearby woods. He was grateful to enjoy elk hunting trips to both Wyoming and Canada, two places he loved. He was also an expert coon hunter, and for many years trained his own dogs.

In his retirement, Dad could reliably be found outdoors tending his enormous vegetable garden or sitting in his recliner watching birds at the feeders. He especially loved watching the cranes stop in a field near the house for rest on their migration route. He was an avid news consumer–reading newspapers and watching TV news programs was a habit his children learned from him. An avid Packer fan, he passed the football bug on to his kids. Dad never had the opportunity to attend college, but was proud to watch three of his children and both granddaughters receive their degrees.

He was active in St. Columbkille Catholic Church in Elba, serving on various committees and commentating on Sundays. He was a steely hand at Euchre, was known to cut a mean kitchen two-step, and never missed a showing of “The Quiet Man.” He took wicked pleasure in vexing with aimless chitchat any telemarketer unfortunate enough to find him on the other end of the telephone. Dad was an expert storyteller—we can only imagine he’s regaling a slew of folks in heaven who have missed the colorful tales of his various exploits and practical jokes.

He is survived by his sons Tim (Agnes Chwae) of Madison and Greg (Tanna) of Columbus, as well as his daughter Karen (James Berbee) of Madison. He is further survived by his granddaughters Caitlin (Sam) Evans and Megan (Joe) Rodgers, and his great-grandchildren Collins and Calliope Rodgers, and Ella and Knox Evans. Other survivors include his sisters Sandra Coyle, Patricia (Orin) Strand, and Barbara (Charles) Cady; his brothers Bart (Linda) Walsh and Barry (Sue) Walsh, and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Josephine; his son Jonathan; his granddaughter Theresa; his brother Scott Walsh and wife Margaret; his sister Judith Corwith and husband Dean, his brother-in-law Patrick Coyle, and his nephew Thomas Walsh.

There will be a private family service held at a future date.

To honor him, raise an Irish toast and play a little Johnny Cash.

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