Clarence H. “Larry” Carney
From June 2, 1926 to late in the year 1944, he was known as “Utts” (a shorter version of his middle name) by his friends and large family, from downstate near Kingston. He answered to this name from his first local employers on the nearby farms where he worked for one dollar a day and all the vegetables he could carry home to help feed his family. He was the middle of twelve children born to Moses and Hattie Keator Carney, all born at home. There are three siblings who continue to fondly call him the same nickname. Fellow service buddies mostly called each other by last names and extended family and friends from upstate, near Pulaski, New York, know him as “Larry.” He is happy to answer to “Dad” or Kylan and Kody calling him “Gramps” and he was “Grandpa C” to all their friends. Perhaps his most joyful response is when called “PaPa”, which is great-grandpa in toddler language that Jasper and Kyson speak fluently and he understands everything they say.
He was also known as Retired Chief Warrant Officer Clarence H. Carney, a veteran. That describes someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'citizens of United States' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and that best describes this wonderful man and how he lived his life.
He began his world tour with Uncle Sam on Oct 3, 1944, when he boarded the Queen Mary along with 17,999 other green troops in Company B 274th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division, from Alsace Lorain, France, on their way to war. From there he was transferred to HQ Company 7th Infantry Regiment at Hersfeld, Germany from Company B 274th to Dotz Heim, Germany. He spoke very proudly of meeting General Patton as he waited at a bridge crossing the Rhine River for his Packard to be loaded and brought from the other side. Shortly thereafter, back to the USA in December 1945 for a thirty-day leave. Soldiers received a one-time allotment when they returned. His was for $200 which he used to put a down payment on a house for his mother and any siblings still living with her. The first monthly allotment of $35 he requested be taken out of his pay routinely was April 15, 1945, sent to his mother to make the monthly mortgage payment that would eventually be paid in full.
In January 1946, he was stationed at Camp Roberts, California as a Tec 5. From April 29, 1947 to July 12, 1949, he was in the US Army Reserves, then re-enlisted for a twelve-week auto mechanic course in Maryland. Positioned to 7th Infantry Regiment at Fort Devens, Massachusetts and then to Service Company 350th Infantry Regiment at Salzburg, Austria, at the ready for another war. He began writing to a nursing student at the request of his cousin back home in the same nursing program. Honorably discharged November 14, 1952, at the rank of Sergeant. He began dating the nursing student, Elaine Jean Peterson from Auburn, New York.
On February 10, 1953, he re-enlisted at Albany on Recruiting Duty, began planning a wedding for May 31, 1953 at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Auburn, New York, and was promoted to Sergeant First Class on July 12, 1953.
A February 9, 1956 re-enlistment brought Sergeant & Mrs. Carney to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for his Helicopter Pilot School. He was transferred to Okinawa Japan in March of 1957, while she remained in Auburn with family to give birth to a daughter, Judith Ann on May 2, 1957. His new family made their way to join him on the island a month later. The journey proved to be difficult for his wife, arriving with pneumonia, a collapsed lung and a little more than six weeks in the hospital. Introductions with his new daughter were quick and he brought the baby home to good friends who stayed round the clock to help him get started on daddy duty. An inseparable bond was formed and he was very proud. He was honorably discharged from the Army in May of 1959. He remained on daddy duty. He began a tradition with the purchase of a beautiful geisha doll for his daughter. He would add a doll from each country he visited throughout his life. Even though never played with, the collection would serve as a source of strength for her while she was waiting for him to return.
Within a month, he re-enlisted at Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Fort Dix, New Jersey. A few months later, he was part of the Escort Guard Detail in Romulus, New York. He felt so fortunate being nearby family for a longer stay this time. He enjoyed fishing on Seneca Lake especially since it was just outside the back door and there was always a tag-along following close behind him, so eager to go everywhere with him, too. He was able to resume the hobbies that were shared so often with brothers, like deer and bear hunting on the mountain and pheasant hunting, and fishing, just like old times. He joined the Masonic Lodge and his wife joined the Eastern Star in that area. They sent JudyAnn on the big school bus to summer camp and Pokey, her first beagle puppy from her dad, watched and waited by the door for her to return each day.
In March 1961 he began Army Chemical School in Fort McClellan, Alabama and in August 1961 it was Adjutant Gen School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. In September 1961, he settled in for a little less than three years on Recruiting Duty in Albany, New York. Holidays with family and friends so close by, more hunting and fishing, first pair of figure skates ended poorly as he fell and was laid up with a whole leg cast for eight weeks. Then there was a first bike with training wheels and lessons were more successful, at least for him. He was not very successful in teaching his wife how to drive, however, sending her to a driving school was the better option. Since JudyAnn was still tagging along every chance she could, she learned by watching his every move and when the time came for him to be the passenger, it was like he was riding with his twin. He was very proud, indeed.
In June of 1964 he was given orders for 298th Signal Company in Fontainebleau, France; the family was traveling together this time with all their belongings and a fox terrier named Susie. The airport was closed due to some kind of unrest on arrival, so the plane landed in Brussels airport in Belgium and he led his family onto a noisy and cold train for the long trip to Paris. Temporary housing until government housing was available on the base was a beautiful restaurant belonging to Madame Lizzy and her rooms were upstairs, so it always smelled wonderful. All of our meals were in the large dining room, except for Susie. She had the same menu, but she had a special place in the kitchen. Miss Lizzy’s fondness for Susie resulted in a very overweight terrier who could understand French. When he walked Susie, he used that opportunity to learn to communicate with the local people. He was coaxed to the market only one time and his daughter was able to translate. At the bakery, he witnessed bread being handmade by a French baker with a big black moustache who was swatting at flies and wore no shirt to absorb the baker’s sweat, as well. His and last trip to the market and he vowed never to eat French bread again. He was good in math, but the international school was teaching “new math” so he went to night classes in order to help his daughter learn “new math” so she would not fall behind while living overseas. Another move, but this was close enough to commute from just outside Paris, and he was appointed Warrant Officer and assigned to Camp Desloges, France.
He sent a ticket for his mother-in-law to come to France for a visit and he took a thirty-day leave to see and share Europe with his family. It started in Berchtesgaden, Germany up the mountain in the cable car to wander and view Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” then riding the wooden slides down underground to the salt mines; from highways to the cobblestone streets of Holland past fields of colored tulips, working windmills and homes with thatched rooves, a visit to Madurodam, the story of Holland in miniature, and the Keuenhof with 79 acres featuring a variety of seven million flowering bulbs and lots of bees; drive the ’62 Chevy Impala onto the huge ferry boat and wave to the mermaid sitting on the rock in Copenhagen; and tour the old castles near Salzburg, Austria. The last portion of this trip was Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Normandy American Cemetery, and the church at Saint Mere Eglise and surrounding area. The somber energy that filled the car did not need explanation, but he claimed it as his duty and attempted to aid the understanding of the sights they were seeing. The majority of France was explored during day and weekend trips such as visiting all the famous churches, museums, monuments, palaces and gardens that Paris and the french countryside had to offer. A short time after that trip around Europe, he was notified that France would withdraw from NATO with the consequence that Allied forces and military headquarters must leave the country. It was time for him to return stateside with his family, Susie, the growing doll collection, belongings and the Impala, too.
Orders came in June 1967, that he would be involved in war one more time. He settled his family in Pulaski, New York, close to his mother-in-law and brothers-in-law and packed the olive drab duffle bag to board the plane for Vietnam, 151 Transportation Company at Long Binh. This was the time of the Tet Offensive. He and his driver would be the last jeep in the convoys that traveled the dusty roads separated by rice patties to and from base to base. A bout with pneumonia sent him to a British Hospital in Thailand and nearly cancelled his R&R to meet his family in Honolulu, Hawaii at Christmas.
He felt fortunate to return stateside for his next tour of duty. He packed his family and drove them all safely across country in a station wagon and tiny camper. There were some times during that trip that tested all of his patience. A new family member that tested his and Susie’s patience, his wife’s cat, Ching. Time to see some of the southern states. June of 1968, destination 301st Transportation Company at Fort Ord, California and their belongings were already there waiting. Living close to Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean made weekend trips up and down the coast quick and easy, so he chauffeured his family often taking in the sights and sounds of the West Coast, like Disneyland, Solvang, Carmel and Golden Gate Bridge. He had a weekly date with his ten year old daughter on Saturday mornings at the base rifle range. For two hours each Saturday, he watched intently as she took each shot for practices and scores were posted for the qualification program; Pro-marksman, Marksman, Marksman 1st Class, Sharpshooter and Expert. He beamed with pride as she achieved the award for each. He selected a Savage 22 Rifle for her Christmas present that year.
In a little more than a year, orders were due to come up and the Vietnam War was still raging. He knew he was extremely blessed to return home from every foxhole and he spoke to his creator in prayer often for all those and their families who were not as fortunate as he was. It wasn’t time to go back to war, it was time to retire from the military. And he did on September 30, 1969. So, load up the station wagon and the camper and take the northern route to see the Redwoods, Old Faithful, the Rocky Mountains, this time back to the small village of Pulaski, New York, to put down some more permanent roots.
He embraced civilian life but continued the strict regimen that was fostered in his career military years. He rented a half house for his family from a Brigadier General’s widow. He found local jobs first at TCG and Goodnough Oil, as a fuel oil delivery person for several years before seeking employment closer to Syracuse, New York. Crouse Hinds at Morgan Road in Liverpool, seemed to be a good fit, even with the hour each way commute and it had benefits and retirement plan. He worked on the assembly line building all different kinds of outdoor lighting as large as stadium lamps and small as home lantern lights. He was a Union Steward and line leader. He would make front page news in winters when the snow fell in feet instead of inches. He always took care of the snow removal, sometimes starting as early as 4am if it was a workday and he always removed snow from the neighbors’ driveways, as well. The newspaper would send crews up for pictures and most times, he was the only one out blowing snow.
You could find him after dinner at the kitchen table with his daughter trying to get through some more “new math” and he was glad he took that training in France. He was always there for music concerts and special activities his daughter participated in. He was very proud to drive the convertible that carried his daughter on the back in county parades one year. Then came proms and graduation, summer jobs and off to college.
For their 30th wedding anniversary, their daughter surprised them with a trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Country music was his first favorite. The trip was for a long weekend with Grand ole Opry tickets, Riverboat dinner cruise, hotel stay and special reservations for dinner on their actual anniversary day. He loved that trip.
As an empty nester, he started a small antique business with his wife, featuring colored depression glass and primitives. This was her dream, to have a shop. He became very educated as he researched each and every pattern. He bought a motorhome to visit military friends in other states and they would set up at flea markets and shows until his wife was not able to travel as much. He and his brother built a small shop behind the garage and it was called The Unicorn Antique Shop. When his wife wasn’t able to go out to the shop any longer, he closed it temporarily and was her sole caregiver. When his wife passed, he didn’t travel in the motorhome but continued running the shop for quite a few years. He adopted easy listening and big band music as his new favorite.
He adopted the grandsons’ routine after his wife passed. So, again he had a tag along. He arrived every morning to drive them to school. Sometimes he would pick them up in his 1969 Camaro. He always had a Dennis the Menace comic cut from the newspaper for Kody. He lovingly referred to his toe-headed, youngest grandson as “Dennis” as they both had a similar thought process, as well. At the end of their school day, he would be there, waiting to bring them home. He participated in all of their interests. He wore his Army uniform to Kody’s kindergarten class on Veteran’s Day and helped with projects for scout banquets, derbies and requirement for rank advancements. He presented Kylan with an American flag at his Eagle Ceremony that had flown over the White House on his birthday. On winter Sundays he would pick them up very early to catch the bus that delivered them to a day of snowboarding and he would be waiting for them when they returned. He taught them how to mow the lawn, shovel the snow, ride bikes, fix things, hunt and fish. And by his example, he showed them what honor, compassion, integrity, love, respect and kindness look like.
There were civilian missions he participated in for the village in the service for others every day of his life. There were several that stand out as above and beyond. An ice storm swept through the north country, power interruptions, trees down, people needing essentials and not able to get out of their homes. His daughter’s church took donations and began collecting items lamp oil, lanterns, batteries, camp stoves, flashlights, blanket and food immediately they needed drivers to go north, deliver and distribute. He and his friend loaded his truck and made many trips north in that first week. It meant so much to him to help others who need it most. A day after 9/11, his daughter announced at the elementary school that a collection of Gatorade was being put together for first response teams in NYC. There was enough Gatorade to build a tower up to the ceiling in the main lobby. His grandson’s scout troop was in charge of dismantling the tower, packing it all into boxes and loading his truck. He was so honored to take the Gatorade to the scout office and see it loaded onto a tractor trailer that was ready to leave for NYC. He always set the best kind of example for the youth in his community.
Over coffee, his daughter asked him if there was any place he had not visited that he would want to see. His reply was Alaska. He would never agree to any celebration on his birthday, but his 75th birthday would have to be different. She invited family that were able to make the trip and he was presented with a week in Alaska via luggage, plane tickets, hotel reservations from Fairbanks to Seward, rental car and a few sightseeing group destinations. So, in keeping with tradition, the last doll for the collection was from Alaska.
Clarence was a beloved community member who shared a piece of sunshine with everyone he came in contact with daily and will be dearly missed.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Clarence’s memory may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104 and Rural & Migrant Ministry, PO Box 192, 15 Stewart Street, Richland, NY 13144
A Private Graveside Service will be held in his honor.
Arrangements are with Summerville Funeral Home
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