Clinton Arthur Springgate, 95, Overland Park, Kansas, passed away April 7, 2018.
He was born February 7, 1923 on a cold winter day on a farm near Ashton, Kansas. His family moved to nearby Arkansas City, Kansas, in 1925.
A bright, inquisitive child, he thrived in school. He was a hard worker helping his family survive the Depression by mowing lawns, selling newspapers, and collecting scrap iron & bottles to sell. He used any tips he received to attend the Saturday morning movies. Despite those tough financial times, he fondly recalled his childhood and loved to return to Arkansas City whenever possible.
As a teenager, his family moved to Lenexa, Kansas. After graduating from Shawnee Mission Rural High School in 1941, he worked in a plant which built mining trucks. Clinton was in his element as he had an engineering mind and loved all things mechanical. Then, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
He enlisted in the Navy and was sworn in on Dec. 7, 1942, which he said was one of the proudest moments of his life. He was accepted into the Navy V-5 Pilot Flight Training Program but a knee injury during training ended his dream of becoming a pilot and he was reassigned to technical training where he graduated first in his Metalsmithing class.
He spent WWII in an ABATU unit, a group of 200 men and 13 officers trained as a unit to support the invasion of future Pacific targets. His service was spent in the Pacific War theater including stints on the aircraft carriers Kitty Hawk and Kwajalein (upon which he survived a typhoon), the heavy cruiser USS Wichita, and in Japan shortly after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war, he returned home to work and to support his aging parents.
He married Anna May Knepp in 1949. They built their house together by hand in the newly developing suburb of Overland Park. They raised two daughters in a loving atmosphere, striving to provide their children all the benefits they never experienced. Sadly, in 1962, Anna May died suddenly, leaving Clinton as a single father. Although an extremely difficult time, he kept his family together, providing love and security for his daughters. Luckily, in 1963, he married Melba Bentlage, who had been a devoted family friend and had been like an aunt to his girls. As this new family grew, their bond continued to deepen, and lasted until Melba’s death in 2015.
From 1942-1980 he spent his career at Dart Truck Co. and Kenworth Truck Co., starting as a laborer on the plant floor and working his way up through many departments including Engineering, Purchasing, Inventory Control, and management including a longtime role as Production Manager and, eventually, as Assistant to the General Manager. His career took him on extended trips through the Caribbean and South America. He loved this aspect of his job and recalled fondly these travel experiences. Although offered opportunities to advance to higher management positions in other cities, he chose family happiness over career, and stayed in Kansas City.
Clinton’s legacy is that of a good man, completely devoted to his family, his country, his church, and always to doing what was right. He was known for his quiet generosity, giving a hand up to those he thought needed, deserved and would benefit from it. He was a man of honor.
He delighted in his family, most recently enjoying playtime with his new great granddaughter with whom he had special connection.
He was a Mason and a member of Knox Presbyterian Church. He is survived by daughters, Terry (Bob) Tucker and Beth Springgate; granddaughters Molly Butkus and Sarah Tucker; great-granddaughter Auden Butkus; and sister Bernice Bryan.
Services will be held Wednesday April 11, 1:30, at Johnson County Chapel (11200 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park, KS 66210) preceded by visitation at 1:00, followed by burial. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Disabled American Veterans.
The family expresses their thanks to the exceptional caregivers and staff at the Forum of Overland Park. We are forever grateful for your competence and compassion.