Clark Will



(Col. U.S. Army, Ret"d)

Will (known among friends as both Will and Bill) was born over a century ago near Mitchell, SD and died May 8, 2013 in Tucson, at almost 109 years. His father died when he was 3 ½ years old, leaving his mother to raise Will and his brother, Guye, two years older. These were difficult years, but they served to strengthen Will, who grew to be a strong, modest, thoughtful, caring man and who also had an incredible memory and a unique sense of humor. He was "common sense" personified, who disliked Dogma, whether political or religious. He met the love of his life, Lois Schafroth in 1931 and they were married in 1933 and remained so for almost 76 ½ years until she passed in April 2010. Will attended Creighton University Dental School, Omaha, Nebraska, graduating in June 1929, four months prior to the start of the Great Depression and subsequently practiced dentistry in Des Moines, Iowa until World War II. Financially, dental school was difficult, but he pulled through with the help of one of his professors, who, without prompting from Will, co-signed a loan for him so Will could stay in school after he fell asleep in class due to working long hours. Being extremely poor during his college years, he thoroughly enjoyed ROTC, particularly Army summer camp, where he actually had three good meals daily. He stayed in the US Army Dental Corps Reserves in the 30's up to 1935, when he transferred to a Cavalry unit in Des Moines because it was more fun riding horses in his spare time than doing the same thing he did at the office - dentistry. For 2 ½ years from 1935 to 1937, one of his fellow Cavalry officers and weekend warrior friend was a fellow named "Dutch" Reagan, who became better known as actor Ronald Reagan and later President. In an article in the Arizona Citizen in November 2003, he was quoted regarding this time with Reagan in the Cavalry in an interview at the Reagan Library conducted in 2001, "He was one of the nicest guys. He looked like a sore thumb on a horse ... but he later became a very good horseman". In 1942, he was called back into the Dental Corps and served almost three years in the Pacific Theater, the last 5 ½ months on Iwo Jima, later saying he "didn't do much dentistry" there, as Medical personnel were essentially medics in combat. Liking the Army so much, after a brief four years back in civilian practice after the war, he returned to the military and retired at age 60 with the rank of Colonel. He received numerous Army Medals and Awards, including the Legion of Merit for exemplary service in establishing Preventive Dental Programs for the Army at Fort Huachuca, among other military assignments. Although he was modest, not wanting to draw attention to himself, in later years, he quietly said he was most proud of the Combat Medical Badge (equivalent to the Combat Infantryman's Badge) for his service on Iwo Jima. He and Lois lived and thoroughly enjoyed life in the Tucson area for the remainder of their lives, since 1964. In his retirement years he focused on his family, traveling with Lois, painting, reading (almost every night, mostly histories and biographies) and golf. He painted for about 10 years, winning a number of awards and then turned to golf. He starting playing in his late 40's, then at about age 70, got serious with it - shooting his age for the first time at age 75. From his late 70's to his late 80's, he shot his age 10-12 times per year. He played in all the Super Seniors (over age 80) Golf tournaments that were held in the Tucson area in the late 1980's and 90s for the 11 years of its being played. He is survived by his children, Max Denman (Anne) of Tucson; Karen Kae DeGood (Ray) of Loveland, CO and Terry (Pam) of San Luis Obispo, CA; seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He was a wonderful role model and inspiration for his children and our future generations, and to his friends. A Memorial Service will be held at EAST LAWN PALMS MORTUARY, 5801 E. Grant, Tucson at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 13, 2013. Family internment will be at Crown Hill Cemetary, Denver, CO. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Creighton University Dental School, Omaha, Nebraska.