Thursday, December 6th, 2007
By Betty Lawrence
St. Marys man marks 101st birthday by recalling last century, planning for 2011
ST. MARYS - Walter Clausing turns 101 today and is still making plans for the future.
As a member of Memorial High School's first graduating class, he wants to attend the dedication of the new school in 2011.
"Wouldn't it be something if I got the chance to speak at the dedication of the new school," Clausing, a 1925 graduate, says during a recent interview at Otterbein-St. Marys, where he now makes his home.
Clausing was born Dec. 6, 1906, in Auglaize County and spent his adult life pastoring churches in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa before retiring from full-time ministry in 1974 and moving back to his hometown of St. Marys.
The snow white shock of hair belies Clausing's age as he reminisces. The year 1938 was a big one in his life, he says.
"I became an ordained pastor, married the love of my life and started my first pastorate that same year," he recalls.
Clausing married Mary Viola Haberkamp, a graduate of Bluffton College who majored in organ and public school music. She preceded him in death in 1982.
Along with recalling a time when he walked three miles to school each day, he talks about the Great Depression. Due to financial shortcomings, he didn't attend college until 1932, several years after graduating from Memorial High School. He entered the Mission House College and Seminary when he felt a religious calling, graduating from the college in 1936 and the seminary in 1938.
He retired after 36 years of ministering to congregations and continued a part-time ministry in St. Marys for several years after.
"My religious roots came from my parents. We were a church-going family and my dad had two brothers in the ministry," Clausing says.
He remains an avid fan of the St. Marys Roughriders football team and is a devout Ohio State fan.
Clausing says he is grateful for the long life he has been given.
"My motto is, 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' and it's a good one," he says.
He is a life member of St. Paul's United Church of Christ, St. Marys, where the congregation and his friends and family honored the new centurian with a 100th birthday party last year.
He keeps busy, he says, remaining optimistic and looking ahead to the future.
"My days are full and I have family that visits me," he says, making sure to give credit to his long-time St. Marys neighbors, John and Linda Hall.
"They've been more than neighbors to me. They are my friends and help keep me going," he says with a smile.
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