Born Jan. 1, 1910, on the family farm on what is now Derby, KS, Clarence Goeldner graduated from Derby High School and then attended business school in Wichita.
Although the family farm had supported four generations of the family going back to the time his great-grandfather, Bernard Goeldner, who homesteaded the property, Clarence and his father did not believe it would support additional families. Unfortunately, it was during the Great Depression, and jobs were hard to find. Clarence struck out with his friend, Merle Moore, heading northwest to pick apples. They felt lucky to make four cents a bushel for their efforts. With nearly $69 in his pocket, the two friends enjoyed a tour of the western U.S.
Back home, he initially worked in the warehouse for the Innes Department Store (later Macy's) in Wichita. He then took a job in customer relations with the Wichita Water Company, which became the Water Department for the City of Wichita, where he worked for over 34 years.
Clarence married Ethyl (Goodin) Goeldner in 1938 and they were married until her death in 1985. The Goodins and the Goeldners were both farming families in the close-knit community around Derby, and Ethyl's parents made up the wedding party for Clarence's parents when they got married in 1909. Clarence and Ethyl had one son, Dean.
At the age of 31, Clarence was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in General Patton's 5th Army in Europe during World War II and saw action at the Battle of Bulge. Clarence spent 117 days on the front lines, working with a mortar crew which shelled the Germans thousands of times. He was also part of the battles that raged in Rhineland and Central Europe.
Clarence loved to travel (often on long car trips) and has visited all the 48 contiguous United States. He also grew tulips and collected stamps.
"But his main passion aside from his family was for his church," Dean says. "He has been a member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Wichita for 73 years, holding virtually every lay leadership position available at one time or another. In many ways the church has been his life. So, as Dad's health has declined, it has been heartwarming indeed to see the members of that church, both individually and collectively, doing for him what he did for so many for so long."
In April of 2007 Clarence moved to the assisted living residence at the Catholic Care Center, where he continues to enjoy special activities and programs. At 101, he proudly claims the title of Derby High School's oldest living graduate.