CASPER – On July 26, 2022, the Clamp family lost our Dad, our Popper, our Hero when he left us to join mom. Dad spent his last days surrounded and cared for by his kids and grandkids in their brick house in Mills where he raised his children and enjoyed his grandchildren.
Ray M. Clamp was born on Nov. 27, 1925, in Wheatland to Wilda Marie (Corson) and Joseph Clamp. His Dad left when he was young and Ray grew up fast, always there to help care for his brother, George and always loving his “MA”. He moved frequently during his childhood, living in countless Wyoming towns and attending multiple schools a year. It was a hard time, but he had good memories thanks to a special relationship with his two Uncles Wes and Howard Corson.
He met the love of his life, June Curtis at Torrington Junior High but would leave her to enlist in the Army. Ray was one of the younger veterans of WWII. He entered the Army at age 18 and served during the war and after, helping with the reconstruction, earning service credit in both WWII and the Cold War.
After returning from active duty, Ray and June were married in Harrisburg, Nebraska on Aug. 5, 1946. Ray soon became an apprentice bricklayer working with June’s father. In July of 1947, the young couple were blessed with the birth of their son Danny Ray only to lose him four months later from viral pneumonia. This loss would be felt for the remainder of Ray’s life. He carved a gravestone for Danny and then re-carved it on the 50th anniversary of Danny’s death.
The Clamps would have five more children with the birth of Linda the next year, followed by Sandra and Steve while Ray was working on the University of Wyoming. Curtis and Scott joined the family when they settled in Mills, first in their little trailer before moving our house on 7th Street.
Long before it became the norm for fathers to take part in their kids’ lives, Ray was involved in all our activities from PTA to youth sports and on to motocross and 4-H. His company sponsored racing cars, ball teams, car shows, hockey tournaments and livestock sales. Ray was instrumental in the remodel of the Junior Baseball Park with mostly volunteer time and materials. He was always willing to pitch in with community projects and was a charter member of the Mills Volunteer Fire Department and the Mills Mt View Lions Club. He was both a general and masonry contractor and was proud of being one of the last union brick contractors in Wyoming. His company, Ray Clamp Masonry, became well known and respected for the quality of their work and his sons and son in law continued that reputation.
Ray had a big presence in the lives of his grandkids. Named Popper by his first grandson Kenny, he became an institution for not only our family but for our community. Each of his kids and grandkids have stories to tell of being rescued from car trouble, home repairs or even being bailed out by Dad/Popper. That service was many times extended to our friends. The Clamp kids weren’t always easy to raise but we have all made it to “old” age due much to his efforts. The family continued to gather every Christmas with 50 to 65 in attendance.
Ray and June spent their retirement exploring the states and Canada in their motorhomes, traveling from coast to coast to huge cities and country roads, many times taking the road less traveled long before GPS was available. From trips to Europe to revisit his war years to camping trips learning to fly fish, children and grandchildren were included in these adventures.
With his sons’ help, Ray restored several cars including the first car and pickup he ever owned: a 34 American Austin and a 55 Ford F100. He was a fixture at the car show, still winning awards at this year’s Cruisin’ Show.
Ray was preceded to heaven by June, his wife of 74 years, his mother Marie, brother George, son Danny, son in law, Larry Montgomery, and special niece, Joanne Stoneking. He leaves those who will miss him; children Linda Montgomery, Sandra Warner (Jeff), Steven Clamp (Peggy), Curtis Clamp (Kelly), and Scott Clamp (Linda), grandchildren Ken (Teresa), Taffi (Duane), Tom (Lisa), Jeff (Lori), Chris (Jami), Ray, Natalie (Chris) Jamie (Clae), Jeremy (Jessica), Kaspen, Riley, and Daniel(Lexi), 17 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Ray had the ability to fix anything with resources on hand, a skill we all took for granted. Sadly, the one thing that he couldn’t fix was Mom’s health. He gave all of his time and love to keep her with him, but he lost that battle in August of 2020. He then fought hard to stay with us and proved what we already knew. Our Dad/Popper was the strongest and most amazing person, and we were the most blessed family to have him for almost 97 years.
The family would like to thank Hospice Transitions, Dr. Lloyd, and Mysty, his therapist, who gave loving care to our Dad. They made it possible for us to keep him home with us, making his final days more comfortable. We would also like to thank John Huff for allowing us the use of Yellowstone Garage for Dad’s celebration.