Clement was born May 17, 1932, in the family home south of Arapahoe, Colorado, to Charles E and Delpha D Mitchell. He was the youngest of six kids having two brothers, Virgil and Ray, and three sisters, Ella, Opal and Faye. Clem grew up helping tend pigs and turkeys and started farming with his dad when he was 9 years old.
Clement attended all 12 years at the Arapahoe School. He participated in sports and music. We also understand he and a few classmates and friends participated in some of the typical school pranks and of course skipping out on the last day of school. They did let him graduate in 1950.
Clement asked classmate Shirley Gee to their Junior Prom, and it seems they’ve been together ever since. They were married March 3, 1951, and were blessed with 72 years together. To this union three daughters were born; Debbie, Deanna and Donna, who later became known as the Three D’s.
Clement and Shirley began farming with pretty much nothing. However, through hard work and determination, Clement began to provide his family a very comfortable living as a dryland wheat farmer. They also had a cow herd and ran stockers.
Clement became a self-taught carpenter and electrician. He built the original family home and each addition since. He was a handyman and a mechanic.
When the girls were growing up Clement and Shirley enjoyed getting away on a vacation most years. They went to places like Yellowstone, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, and numerous places in Colorado, to name a few. This usually occurred sometime after harvest and before fall wheat planting. In later years they worked in six different trips to Branson, MO to enjoy the comedy and music shows. They appreciated the change of scenery and fall colors.
Clement and Shirley enjoyed going to the local dances with friends and enjoyed country western music. Dad usually had a radio on in the shop or pickup or tractor playing music. They also enjoyed playing pitch with friends.
Clement loved his pretty little right-hand woman and gate opener. Not only did she cook and clean and sew and keep the family home running, but he also knew she was there at a moments’ notice to “come help for a few minutes” (which often times ended up being hours). Clement even built her what became known as a “Shirley Gate” to make it easier for her to open and close those tight barbed wire gates for him.
Clement became a self-taught expert welder. He was an inventor and engineer creating so many things. He could build just about anything with iron or steel. He attended many 3-I Shows over the years and attended their workshops. Often times he would see a new piece of equipment there that could make his life a little easier. Of course, he didn’t feel like he could afford to buy it, so he would come home and build it with metal and scrap and parts and pieces, and sometimes even improve on the design. There were times during harvest when custom harvesters couldn’t get the parts they needed, and they would come to Clement, and he would build them what they needed.
Clement built stock trailers, water trailers, livestock chutes, livestock panels, windbreak panels, hitches, shelves, racks, wire rollers, gate openers, etc., etc. Many of his projects are still being used today. The family treasures many of his hobby pieces made from railroad spikes and horseshoes.
Clement was resourceful and organized and was always glad to help out anyone who stopped by the shop. Clement did not enjoy crowds but loved one on one visits over the back end of a pickup bed, meeting up on a dirt road, or at the house. He appreciated his friends and neighbors probably more than he, in his humble manner, was able to convey to them.
Clement and his dad shared a passion and were very instrumental in monitoring and maintaining the quality of water in Arapahoe when the Arapahoe Water Board was established. Clement still knew where all the water lines are, where they entered the homes and has hand-drawn maps of all those locations and other important points concerning Arapahoe water. He has served on the Board since 1962.
Clement also served the National Weather Service for 52 years, gathering and reporting weather and rainfall data using their equipment in his back yard. Clement’s equipment always seemed to report a little less than the neighbors, which he always said was because the government had to take out their 20% off the top.
Clement farmed until he was 86 years old. It was becoming too hard to climb up into that big old tractor anymore so in 2019 made the decision to lease his farm ground. He enjoyed these last few years from his pickup cab, birddogging Tom and Peyton Halde, just making sure everything was going okay.
And now from his daughters:
Dad loved his family. Even through all the trials and tribulations of raising 3 girls. Dad had to wait until a couple of us married to get some men in the family. Sons-in-law Ron and Kit loved our dad and still have the highest respect for him.
Finally, Dad was blessed with four grandsons and boy did he love them and enjoy spending time with them. His children and grandchildren cherish the sound of his belly laugh. He spent hours on the floor being ‘the horse’ with all the grandsons piled on top giggling and laughing as he bucked them off. There were hours of Dad / Grandpa in the pickup pulling the sled over every frozen cow pie he could find in the pasture and always seeming to swing the sled a little too close to the creek bank and dumping us in the deep snow. There was always a loud belly laugh coming from the cab of the pickup as he watched us roll.
Somehow, we all came back for more, except maybe Debbie. The last time Dad dumped her off the sled up at the school she refused to get back on and walked all the way home. She still seems a bit miffed about that one.
Many of you have seen the Purple Bomb, the little car Dad built for us girls. All from parts from this and that and an auger motor and an axle or two from.…something? The girls (and later the grandsons) learned how to drive, run a clutch, pull-start an engine, flip a choke, air up a tire, check oil levels and, oh yes, remember you do have to add gas once in a while; all in one little vehicle. We will never know why or where that purple paint came from. Part of Dad’s humor coming through we guess. The Purple Bomb is on its’ third motor now and the great-grandkids are getting to experience the joy.
To us his daughters, Debbie, Deanna and Donna, our Dad was the smartest man we have ever known. We respected him so much, as do so many others. He had a brilliant mind, he had great common sense, he was such a hard worker, he could fix anything, he taught us so much. We are so proud to be his daughters. We will miss you terribly, Dad.
Clement is survived by his wife Shirley. His Three D’s, Debbie (Ron) Justiss, Deanna (Kit) Pharo, and Donna Mitchell.
Grandsons Mike (Nicole) Riedy, Tyson (Becky) Pharo, John (Monique) Riedy, Jody (Bev) Pharo and Granddaughter Jessica (Heath) Harroll.
Great Grandkids Braylee Pharo, Jacklynne Harroll, Jay Riedy, Levi Harroll and Cole Riedy.
He is preceded in death by his parents, 5 siblings and Grandson Trapper Pharo.
Clement Mitchell – Beloved Husband, Dad, Father-in-law, Grandpa, Great-grandpa, Uncle, Friend.
Funeral services were held on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at the Arapahoe Community Church. Burial followed in the Arapahoe Cemetery. Friends and family can sign the guestbook and register online condolences at www.brownfuneraldirectors.com. Visitation and funeral services were entrusted to the care of the Brown Funeral Home.