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Clarence W. Dirks ( Missoula 1945 )

posted: Jan 1, 2002

Clarence died May 20, l996, in Federal Way, WA. He was born February 20, 1923, in Durham, Kansas, to Mennonite parents. His family, which included 12 children, moved to Kansas about 1929.

"I was in my first year of school at the time, having begun without being able to speak a word of English." The depression hit and in 1937 "my father gave up on Kansas, sold everything--we ended up with $69 and being bankrupt."

They traveled to Northern Idaho, "all of us in a truck along with a crate of chickens." The family was successful at farming and his father, a Mennonite minister, paid off the Kansas debts.

Clarence worked at a local sawmill and then with the USFS before being inducted in the Civilian Public Service.

He jumped at Missoula during the 1945 season. "I jumped on quite a few fires including one where my main chute did not open and I had to use my emergency chute."

After his discharge, Clarence returned to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and ended up working the heavy construction industry. He started his own construction business before taking a position with the Army Corps of Engineers in 1964. Clarence was with the Corps of Engineers for 24 years before retiring.