Clarence Vessels Obituaries (1935 – 2021) – Sebastopol, CA
Clarence Joe Ships
February 25, 1935 – October 27, 2021
Clarence Joe Vessels passed away peacefully with his Heavenly Father on October 27, 2021, at the age of 86. Clarence was born to loving parents, Arthur and Stella Vessels, on February 25, 1935, on the outskirts of Puxico, Missouri. Clarence was one of six children. Two brothers, Paul and Tony, and three sisters, Glenda, Wilda and Lynetta. Their home was in the Mingo Swamp which is now the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. He would learn from an early age that hard work was a way of life. His father and older brothers hunted, fished, trapped furs and felled tall cypresses. They would use large crosscut saws to chop down the trees, then with axes they would carve perfect railroad ties that would fetch fifty cents each. Clarence’s uncle and aunt lived next door and they had heard a lot about Sebastopol, California from a friend. Together with Clarence’s father, they moved to California to seek better jobs and opportunities. It didn’t take long for the family to be reminded that California was indeed the place to be. Good job and good weather. The whole family would eventually follow. Clarence came to California when he was five years old and Sebastopol would be his new home.
His father and brothers taught him how to fish and hunt from an early age and it showed. He was an exceptional outdoorsman. He would help out after school doing various jobs, and as a teenager he would work at Ray Graham’s Chevron station in downtown Sevastopol. Clarence met the love of his life, Marilyn Spencer, when he was 16. When he met her it was a done deal and two years later they were married. Good paying jobs were rare and after getting married, Clarence one day set out to find a better paying job to support his family. He applied to several different companies and stopped at Manzana Products, an apple cannery in Graton. He would come home and tell his wife Marilyn that the owners were going to give him a chance to be a “forklift driver” in their apple factory. They loved Clarence and for the next 47 years he would not only work there, but rise through the ranks learning the trade. He would eventually become the general manager of the plant and, through major business decisions, help Manzana through very difficult times when the apple business declined due to poor harvests and changing market conditions. Clarence’s life was the apple business. He liked different kinds of apples and watched them all year round to measure the harvests of the season. He loved the cannery, the owners, its employees and all the apple growers who went through good and bad seasons.
Clarence was a fast softball pitcher and played for the Windsor Merchants and the famed Guanella Brothers. He was then involved and coached in the Sevastopol Little League for many years. Clarence was a friend to everyone, he was a magnet to meet people wherever he went. He was an example to his family and friends that anything is possible through hard work, honesty, helping others, and always doing the right thing. He was devoted to his family and much loved by his wife, children, grandchildren and extended family. His family was everything to him. There are treasured memories of camping, fishing trips, hunting with his son, family reunions, family songs with him playing his banjo. He loved the Lord and listened to Gaither Gospel music and was a proud American. We have all been richly blessed to have had him in our lives. His legacy lives on, he was an example of all that is good.
He is survived by his wife Marilyn of 68 years, his three children – Sue Hamilton, Ronald Vessels and Joan Vessels, four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.
At his request, a private burial was held. A very special thank you for the loving care and compassion received from Kindred Care and the “entire angel staff” who assisted us at the CPMC-Davies campus. We will always be grateful.
Memorial donations may be made in Clarence’s memory to: Veterans of Foreign Wars 282 S High St #100A Sebastopol, California 95472 or Please consider planting an apple tree.
Published by Press Democrat on February 6, 2022.