Clarence “Clar” E. Self, Jr., 86, of Elburn, passed away in the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, at Countryside Care Center in Aurora, Ill.
He was born Oct. 25, 1925, in Birmingham, Ala., the son of Clarence Sr. and Willie Mae (Oldeacre) Self.
Clar grew up in Decatur, Ill., where his father owned an iron working business before the depression hit. The family piled into the car and took a trip north to Chicago, where he attended local schools. The family moved in 1939 to Cicero, where he attended Morton East High School. There he became an all-state football player and state champion wrestler. Before his graduation in 1942, he caught the eye of the head cheerleader, Darlene Bushong. The two high school sweethearts were united in marriage on Feb. 22, 1947.
His reputation in athletics preceded him and after being recruited nationally, Clar’s love of fishing and Lake Mendota helped lure him north to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Two years later, in 1944, Clar was drafted into the United States Navy and honorably served his country during WWII. His return to civilian life brought him back to school to finish his studies and continued excellence both on the mat and on the field. Even though he became the Big Ten Wrestling Champion and was one bout away from making the Olympic Team, his exploits on the football field, including the North-South All-Star Shrine Football game, brought the attention of the NFL. He was drafted by the then Chicago Cardinals before being traded to the Detroit Lions, but found a home on his beloved Green Bay Packers. No matter what uniform he wore, he always called both Cicero, and later Berwyn, home.
Clar and Darlene called Indian Head Park, Ill., their home until they both went their separate ways; Darlene to Florida, and Clar found a home in Lake Como, Wis. In 2000, he moved to Elburn and lived with his son Bruce until declining health brought him into the care of Countryside Care Center in Aurora.
Clar worked as a milk man in the football offseason for Willow Farm Dairy. Later, he returned to his family’s iron working roots, working in the iron mills of Hammond, Ind. He moved to the construction side of iron working in 1968, then for 10 years in construction management before starting his own iron working company. He eventually left iron working behind and followed his long time passion of coin and stamp collecting by opening The Aurora Coin and Stamp Shop. During the same time he also owned and ran The Cove Lounge, also in Aurora, before his retirement in 1988.
Clar was a proud member of the Iron Workers Union, as well as the NFL’s “Pre-‘59” group of former players.
Clar was an avid gun collector, especially WWII-era weapons. He had a special place in his heart for dogs and they had one for him; there wasn’t a dog anywhere that didn’t love him on sight or scent. Clar loved and supported his children unconditionally, often encouraging them to do their best no matter what they chose to do. There was no bigger or vocal fan than Dad. His green thumb helped his rose bushes to bloom, country music spoke to his heart and beer always went best with just about anything. Those memories and thousands more will be the legacy he leaves, never to be forgotten.
He is survived by his two children, Bruce A. (Margie) Self of Elburn and Cynthia L. (Chester) Thomas of Houston, Texas; and five grandchildren, Jason Self, Amber (Michael) Boothe, Alexandra Self, Megan Cantini and Jaclyn Self.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Carl N. Self, and his former wife, Darlene Self.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. with a funeral service to begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL 60119. Private family interment will follow cremation at a later date.
The family invites friends to send their favorite memory mailed in care of “Memories of Clarence Self” to P.O. Box 66, Elburn. Memories can also be sent through www.conleycare.com where you can also find his full life story. For those wishing to donate monetarily, the family encourages donations to your favorite charity.