By Daniel Nash
At 92 years old, Lucille Clancy is one of the elder members of the Bonney Lake Senior Center. She’s picked up a few stories along the way, stories that have taken settings as varied as Canada, the American midwest, southern California and Hawaii.
Clancy was born in the Saskatchewan province of Canada in 1918, her father having just been sent from the States to work in a hardware store. She was raised in Canada until the age of four, when she and her family moved to Oto, Iowa.
Oto was a burg of 300 that lived up to some of the expected small town ideals, Clancy said.
“It was an easy childhood,” she said. “We had good playtime, nice people around town and large families. Large families were pretty usual back then.”
Clancy herself was the oldest of 13 children. Growing up in a big family was allright, she said, but sometimes she wished there weren’t so many people in the family. As the oldest, she was involved in some of the care for her younger siblings.
She put that experience to work once she reached her teen years, babysitting and housekeeping for $3 a week.
“It put me through high school,” she said. “It was money I could use just for expenses and school clothes. Schools didn’t give us everything: the books were furnished to us, so the money just bought pencils and paper.”
Clancy matriculated with a graduating class of 13 students in the mid-1930s. She subsequently moved 40 miles northwest to Sioux City.
It was in Sioux City she met her future husband, Floyd Clancy, at a party. Her future husband was a featherweight prize fighter known by his nickname Billy.
“He won quite a few fights,” Clancy said. “It was all right (dating a boxer). He wasn’t a bit obnoxious or anything that I would have expected from someone who did what he did.”
He quit boxing soon after the two were married in 1939. Together they had three children: a daughter and two sons, each one born more than a decade apart.
Floyd moved on from boxing to aeronautics, working for Lockheed Martin. The job took the Clancy family to southern California, followed by Hawaii. During the nine years they lived in Honolulu, most of it was spent on a sail boat.
“We tried living in an apartment for the firstyear,” Clancy said. “We just preferred a boat. The boys went to school barefooted in shorts. It was always nice, we didn’t have to dress up to stay warm. If anyone fell in the water, we just jumped in to hold them up.”
Eventually they returned to mainland California. When Clancy’s oldest son was of age to enter college, she decided to try something new and enrolled with him. While the junior Clancy studied to become a mechanical engineer, his mother earned her degree to qualify as a vocational nurse.
“It was fun even though I was a lot older,” she said. “I loved it because I wanted to even go when I was out of high school. But I didn’t have money at that time.”
Clancy’s training took her to Lancaster Hospital first, before she found her true calling: working with seniors. She became charge nurse at a nursing home, a job she fulfilled for nearly 20 years.
“I loved it, mainly because of the older people,” she said. “I was in my 40s or 50s at the time and we just got along great.
“I just miss the people, the older people. I think they appreciated it. Many of them had hard lives and they just enjoyed being waited on.”