Clifford Hale Jr., born Nov. 29, 1926, went to be with his precious Lord on Nov. 24, 2012 — unable to wait another four days until he turned 86 — to be with his precious wife of nearly 60 years, Wynelle Franklin Hale.
Clifford, also known as Cliff or Jr., was born in Waco, Texas, to Lilly and Clifford Hale and was raised from age 14 by his beloved stepfather, Bob Spence. At age 17 — exaggerating his age by a year — Cliff decided he needed to join the Army with thousands of others, ready to defend our country in World War II.
His stepfather, Bob, had taught him the fine art of welding at age 14. He was given the job of teaching the officers in New Orleans how to weld so they could work on our aircraft and other equipment. However, after basic training in New Orleans, he would soon be called to deploy to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, arriving three days after the bombing.
They were marched through to help with clean up, a mission that would change his life forever both emotionally and physically for the pain it brought to his fellow human beings and seeing those starving. He personally sacrificed to help alleviate their hunger. However, the radiation he absorbed took a huge toll on his life, basically frying his internal organs and corkscrewing his choroidal arteries, causing him to deal with 29 major surgeries and resuscitated from two other deaths and endured pain for the rest of his life.
Cliff returned to Big Spring after the War and while dealing with an ear infection, he went to Dr. Woods’ office. Upon going for the second visit he noticed the beautiful receptionist remembered his name from the first visit. Her name was Wynelle Franklin. As those things go, three months later he married this remarkable woman. A year and a day later, on Wynelle’s birthday and just one day after their anniversary, they welcomed a daughter, Donna Elaine, and three years later a son, Terry Don, to their family.
Cliff worked for his father at Hale Pump Company for many years. He also co-owned Hamby Motor Company with lifelong friends, Margaret and Raymond Hamby. Then he bought his father’s business and again owned Hale Pump Co. with partner, AJ Statser.
In the 1980s, his health would no longer allow the digging of ditches and setting of pumps, so he retired and went to work at Howard College, where I believe to this day he was the only one qualified to teach five subjects. In 10 years he once again retired and worked on his ranch and enjoyed deer hunting and fishing, his passions.
In 2004, he and Wynelle bought Austwell Trailer Park in Austwell, Texas, near the coast where he was raised. It was a place he loved and made great friends. Then, sadly, they had to leave and return to their home in Big Spring because they both had life-threatening problems.
Cliff lost his beloved wife, Wynelle, on Sept. 7, 2007, and was also preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Lilly Spence and stepfather Bob Spence, then of Coahoma; and double cousin (who he considered a sister) Billie Harris.
He is survived by his brother, Jim Montgomery and wife Nancy of Atlanta, Ga.; a son, Terry Hale and daughter Carley Hale (his cover girl); a daughter, Donna Carey Atkins and husband Richard Atkins (who he also considered his great friend and son) and Donna’s children, Bill Carey (who he always said was his other son, for he helped raise him and took him to the ranch every weekend of his life), Kendra Carey Willingham (his precious love and the first to finish college in his family, which he was so proud of); three great-grandchildren, Delaney Carey of Colorado Springs, Co., and Grayson Dean Willingham and Zane Edward Willingham of Frisco, Texas (Oh, how he loved these precious ones). The “stars in my eyes,” he would say.
Cliff loved the Lord totally and completely and read the Bible daily and completely through 14 times until it fell apart and we had to get a second one for him to highlight. He wanted his “Bill” to have it. Cliff taught Sunday school, held nearly every office in the churches and belonged to Wesley Methodist, having helped start Kentwood Methodist
He returned for the second time to First Methodist where Wynelle and he were married. He loved the church and believed God wanted us, with his other believers, to strengthen us as a man and to do God's work. He was always big on fund-raising, made Mexican dinners, barbecues and loved The Lords Acre Celebration Fundraiser.
He taught tithing to his children from the first allowance, saying “You give God his 10 percent and you will never go without, because you cannot out-give God. Test it, he will prove it. Want more? Give more.”
Cliff was a Mason and member of the First Lodge of Big Spring, Texas. He and Wynelle loved and supported the Waco Methodist Children’s Home.
A quiet man — though a little ornery — who gave a lot. His home for the last two years was the Lamun-Lusk-Sanchez Texas State Veterans Home. The people there were very special to him and the nurses and administration were great. We are extremely grateful for their love and care. God bless you all for the love you give.
The family suggests memorials to First United Methodist Church of Big Spring, Waco Methodist Children’s Home or the American Cancer Society.
Memorial services will be held at First Methodist Church at a later date in January so all he loved can be there.
Cliff and Wynelle believed in giving all you could, therefore donated their bodies to Texas Tech University for research.