Elmwood man celebrates 101st birthday
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - From World War II to a long banking and law career, Dwight Clements has lived a memorable life.
You could certainly say 101-year-old Dwight Clements is Pure Nebraska. “My first Elmwood person came, my great grandfather, with a team of horses,” he said. Dwight’s great grandfather homesteaded 80 acres in 1868 just south of Elmwood. For that reason, his roots run deep in Cass County. He graduated from Elmwood High School in 1938.
“I well remember the dirty 30′s, at a time when there was no rain, no crops, and no money,” Dwight said. During that time, he says the local bank was about to close. “Bess Streeter Aldrich, if you are familiar with the famous author who recorded a bunch of these times in her works, was the only person in town that had any money.” She invested money to keep the bank open. At that point, Dwight’s father was able to buy the bank from Aldrich. “Our connection to the bank goes back to 1938 as far as ownership is concerned,” Dwight said.
He earned a business degree at the University of Nebraska, then enlisted in the Army. “I enlisted in September of 1942,” Dwight said. By 1944, he found himself on a troop convoy ship to England. “The main thing I remember about that is it was in November, and boy, the North Sea was a rough old sea. We really bounced around,” Dwight said. He was almost sent to Germany for the Battle of the Bulge. “They had us stopped before we were called across,” he said. So, he was put into an engineer battalion in France, and helped build portable bridges. Dwight remembers being in France when news of Japan’s surrender came in 1945. “We were next to an attack unit, and the tanks had sirens, lights, and flares. I asked the officer of the day, hey what’s going on, and he said ‘haven’t you heard?’ They dropped another big one, and Japan gave up,” Dwight said.
Thanks to the GI bill, he came home to finish his law degree. “So it was 1947 that I passed the bar and went down to Elmwood to work in the bank and practice law with my father,” Dwight said. Dwight spent decades in the small town. “What did I like the most? The people. That community has good, honest, solid people,” Dwight said. In 1986, he retired from his banking and law career, and turned it over to his sons. His son Rob has a degree in actuarial science, and Rick has his degree in law. Dwight’s other son, Greg, took a different route. “Greg’s in Omaha, a Ph.D., and is a retired astronomer,” Dwight said.
Now the bank is operated in Elmwood by the 6th generation of the Clements family. Looking back, Dwight has some advice for us. “My standard advice to a young man are two things: number one, and most important of all, find the right partner.” Dwight did. He was married to his wife Marge for 71 years. “She was an angel,” Dwight said. His other piece of advice? Enjoy your work. “Get yourself into a job, position or trade that you enjoy so that when you get up in the morning and go to work, you are happy to do it,” Dwight said.
You could say Dwight has lived a charmed life. His customers, friends and family are grateful for it.
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