Wilson came to Clarkston in 1926 at the age of five, and grew up as one
of seven siblings. His mother’s family was from Iowa, and his
Dad’s from Idaho. His father worked on the early Potlatch dam and
then at the Potlatch mill and his mother was a housewife. As kids did
during the depression, he had a job working at the Seventh St. Grocery
while in high school and stayed on there after graduation. He joined
the army in 1942, serving on the West Coast in the 63rd AAA gunnery
battalion guarding Boeing Field and also sites in the South Pacific.
When he was discharged in 1946, he followed his Dad to the mill, then
worked for Morgan Brothers, Adams Auto Sales, and then returned to
Potlatch as a millwright in 1954. He retired in 1983.
Ella Mae Wilson came to Clarkston in
mother’s family (the Winkle family) was from Tennessee, and her
father had always lived in Washington. Ella Mae’s father was a
mail carrier and her mother a housewife. She had one sister. She worked
for Jane’s Cleaners while in Clarkston High School and then after
graduation, went to work for Montgomery Ward in Lewiston, first at what
is now the Sylvan’s Furniture site downtown, and then in the
Lewiston Mall (at the current Gottschalk’s site) in 1965. She
retired in 1982 when the store closed.
Although they were neighbors living
street from each other (not far from the house they later lived in as a
family for 43 years), they met on a blind date at the YWCA in Lewiston.
They were married October 4, 1946 at the Trinity Lutheran Church manse.
They brought up two boys, Rod and Ken. Four generations
Wilson's worked at Potlatch over the years: Clyde and his father, and
Clyde’s two sons, and 3 grandchildren. Rod currently lives in
Clarkston, and Ken lives in Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
The Wilson's joined the Presbyterian
Easter Sunday 1955 with Clyde and their sons
baptized at that time. The Rev. George Hendricks was the pastor, and
Elvie Pittwood was the secretary. She was a hardworking, wonderful
person, in charge of keeping the history of the church, and assisting
in most of the activities taking place. Gene Parsons was the head
usher. Rod and Ken were active in youth groups, and went on to
Washington State University after high school.
Clyde served as a trustee, a deacon, and
while Ella Mae served two terms as a deacon doing duty often as
treasurer. The church benefited from Clyde’s skills with wood and
his well-appointed wood shop: he built our communion table, bookcases,
a podium, the coffee cart, window valances, the TV cabinet in the OWLS
room, and many other pieces. Their garden produced a bounty every year
and Clyde had a free “farmer’s market” from the trunk
of his car on Sundays. Ella Mae, with her cooking and baking skills,
shared with diners at the many dinners and coffee hours the church has
year after year.
Tri-State Hospital, the Elks, and the
are only three of the many organizations, which have benefited from
their generous sharing of time and talent. Clyde served on the cemetery
board, Asotin County Transportation Board, and for 18 years, the
Southeast Washington’s Aging and Long Term Care board, was also
on the founding of the Pautler Senior Center serving 15 years on the
board. At Clyde’s funeral on July 2, 2007, the church burst at
the seams with mourners, reflecting his involvement in the community
and the esteem in which he was held.
Early on, Ella Mae and Clyde were
members of the
young married couples’ club, called Mariners, then
renamed the Clipper Club. They served as various officers in this
group. Later, they joined the OWLS, served on the board and on the
travel committee. Ella Mae continues in the Bible Study led by Gary
Ella Mae writes, “The Presbyterian
been our church home for 52 years and we have seen many changes. Some
we liked, and some we were unhappy with, but things always worked out.
We have been truly blessed to be members and to have so many wonderful
friends in the congregation. My faith and Clyde’s faith grew over
the years and it has sustained us.”