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Grimsby loses community cornerstone

As Grimsby grew and changed all around him, Howard Clausen did not.

Howard, who died May 20 at the age of 92 was one of the most active champions Grimsby has ever seen.

He was not the most visible. He never wanted to be, but, in his way, he was practically everywhere since he arrived in town in 1952.

To name a few things:
• 35-year volunteer firefighter with Grimsby Fire Department;
• Grimsby Lions Club member;
• Very active at Trinity United Church, Grimsby Historical Society, Grimsby & District Chamber of Commerce, the Masonic Lodge, Grimsby Benevolent Fund, Shriners and Grimsby Garden Club;
• Town of Grimsby alderman, and;
• Military veteran, and much more.

“He was a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Howard’s eldest son, Bill.

“He was always busy and he always wanted us to be busy. He hated seeing us sitting there doing nothing.”

Aside from getting things done, Howard also had a sense of knowing who needed what in terms of support: whether that be a kind gesture, hug, or some very quiet financial help.

“He just had a knack. He could pick someone out of the crowd who needed a handshake or a kind word,” said Bill.

That knack made him an integral and dedicated supporter of every group he was connected with. When a need arose, Howard was there…sometimes as quickly as possible.

In an online tribute to Howard, long-time friend Debbie Zimmerman recounted seeing him barreling down Kingsway Boulevard in his pyjamas to get to the firehall for a call.

Howard’s military experience, while an important part of his life was not something Howard spoke about. He was a medic in the army and was part of the Battle of Normandy.

“It was towards the end of the war. His brother, Roy, had already been killed at Dieppe and his other brother, Bob, was an RAF mechanic in England.

“The war time was very tough on him. He was there for the liberation of Holland and it was hard for him to see children on the road with no food,” said Ruth, the youngest of Howard’s four children.

Whether it was holding court in the furniture sales area of the Grimsby Benevolent Fund store on Friday nights, or making one of countless visits to someone at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (he was part of Trinity United’s visiting program committee), Howard always had time to help someone in need.

“He was of a different era, when people knew what it was like to have nothing. His was a very benevolent generation,” said Ruth.

During visitations when people waited hours in line, or after the reception at a packed Trinity United, Bill said the family heard time and time again from people who been helped in one way or another by Howard over his decades of service.

“There were people who came up to me and said simply ‘I would not still be here if it were not for your dad,” said Ruth.

“There was a ton of small comments,” added Bill. “People saying they got helped out at a bad time in their life..but nobody every knew how much he was doing.”

Howard is survived by his wife, Alice. He was the father of Bill (Barbara), Andy (Pam), Jack (Carrie) and Ruth. Cherished grandfather of Robbie, Christopher, Mark, Stuart, Cindy, Laura, Becky, Brian and Tom and great-grandfather of 19 great-grandchildren.

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