Clarence Wilbur Gillespie passed away June 17th in the care of North Care Hospice in Kansas City North after an extended battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.
Clarence was born in Lowry City , Missouri on July 9th, 1941, sole child to Wilbur and Zada Gillespie. He grew up in the Osceola and Lowry City area, even attending high school with his future wife Judy Finter at Osceola High School. As a young boy he enjoyed participating in the Future Farmers of America.
By the time Clarence reached young adulthood he had moved to the Kansas City area for employment and met his first wife Sharon. Together they raised four children in Kansas City, North. Clarence spent much of his adult life providing for the family while working in various warehouses as a forklift operator. Clarence enjoyed playing host to social events at the house with the family, often welcoming other families over from church for dinners and parties.
Later on Clarence would be reunited with Judy as dating singles. They found that they shared not only roots in the Osceola area, but they also had much in common interest with antique shops, traveling and socializing with other couples in outings.
One of the prides of Clarence later life would be relating to family and friends his friendship with the child star of “It’s a Wonderful Life” Karolyn Grimes who played James Stuart’s daughter in the film, ZuZu Bailey. Clarence and Karolyn attended the same high school, and Karolyn even writes of Clarence in her memoir “Celebrating It’s a Wonderful Life”. Karolyn tells how her friendship with Clarence inspired her through his struggles with cataracts on his eyes as a child. Clarence and Karolyn would remain in touch in correspondence and friendship throughout the rest of his life.
Friends share many stories of Clarence sacrificing his time and resources to help others. He was often giving rides and delivering bread and other food items to those he found in need. Clarence’s children and grandchildren will always remember that birthdays shared with Clarence meant going out to eat and having to have not just one Polaroid taken of the occasion, but at least “one more picture” to make sure there was a good one taken, then watching over them as they developed on the table right in front of their eyes.
Clarence is survived by his wife of 21 years, Judy Gillespie of Gladstone. He is also survived by Sharon Baxter, mother of their 4 children, the sons and daughters themselves- Tabitha Belk of Gladstone, Rusty Gillespie of Lawson, Chad Gillespie of Kansas City, MO and Elana Schauerman of Bates City, 8 grand children, 4 great grandchildren, and numerous extended family members and close friends. He will be remembered and sadly missed.