Clem Wehe passed away last Sunday at 90 years of age. Today, October 3rd, he was buried in Santa Barbara, California. I regret that I could not be there to honor this great man with my southern California Bohnett family. I first met him in the summer of 1971 when he was courting (yes, old-fashioned courting!) my widowed Aunt Sheila who was the mother of 13 children in Santa Barbara. Clem was a Brother in the Franciscan Order and had known the family through working with the Bohnett boys who were going to St. Anthony’s Seminary.
In June of 1972, Clem, a single man in his mid-fifties suddenly became a father to the 13 Joe Bohnett children when he married Aunt Sheila. What amazed me about Clem was the way that he continued to honor my Uncle Joe to all of the kids. He never tried to compete with Joe’s memory, but he encouraged stories to be told about their father. (One fact I did not know about Clem was that he, too, was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal for bravery, as did my Uncle Joe, while fighting the Nazis in Europe.) Clem had sereneness about him, an ability to be a calming influence to others in the room. His life motto was taken from St. Francis,”Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” For sure, that trait of peacemaking was a valuable asset to bring to a family of 13 kids, several of them now highly energetic teenagers!
Both Clem and Aunt Sheila, who passed away from cancer in 2003, were strong Catholic believers. Their home was directly across the street from the Catholic church of their community. They both attended mass faithfully. I always felt such a strong connection with both of them as we shared a common love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Clem, you were a REAL father! Thank you for coming into Aunt Sheila’s life and becoming “a father to the fatherless,” to my cousins many years ago. I know that 13 Bohnetts, their children, grandchildren and so many of us who knew you were forever impacted by your quiet, godly strength.