There is a line in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi that says, ” … for it is in giving that we receive.”
On Monday, former Millwood mayor and longtime educator Clarence Pence received a send-off fitting for a man who friends and colleagues said gave generously of his time and wisdom.
The town hall was closed in his honor, and nearly 500 people crammed into the Millwood Community Presbyterian Church for a memorial service for Pence, who died of sudden heart failure Friday, three days short of his 85th birthday.
A simple bouquet of red and white flowers adorned the altar as Rev. D. William McIvor recited the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, one of Pence’s favorites.
The prayer encourages people to live their lives with compassion and understanding, selflessness and faith.
“It is indeed the way he thought to live his life,” McIvor said.
Those who knew the 43-year Millwood resident agreed.
“When he was mayor, he always wanted to be part of the team,” said Eva Colomb, the Millwood town clerk. “He never made you feel like he was over you or anything.
“He was absolutely great. There are no words to describe what he was like.”
His wife of 61 years, Betty Bement Pence, said her husband loved to interact with people of all kinds.
“The minister asked one of my daughters about his hobbies,” Mrs. Pence said in her home Monday. “She said people were his hobby. He was a people person.”
Pence served on the town council for 10 years before being elected mayor in 1986.
He served one term, concentrating many of his efforts on maintaining the small-town, family atmosphere of Millwood.
One of his proudest accomplishments was getting curbs installed around the trees in the center of Dalton Street, a shaded residential avenue that to many signifies the essence of the town of 1,700.
So popular was Pence as mayor that when he decided not to run for a second term, candidates for the position promised not to change the way the town was run.
The Cheney native worked in the field of education for more than 40 years.
He served as an administrator for Spokane Community Colleges and both an administrator and superintendent of schools in Valleyford, Connell, Nooksack Valley and West Valley.
Both his daughters became teachers, as did a grandson.
“Clarence Pence was a planter of seeds,” McIvor said.
He was a graduate of Eastern Washington University and Washington State University and had served on the boards of the Spokane County Health District, the Valley Hospital Foundation, the Eastern Washington University Foundation and the Spokane Transit Authority, among others.
In 1989, STA named its transit center at University and Fourth for Pence and fellow STA board member Bob Cole.
He is survived by his wife; daughters Peggy McBride of Mesa, Ariz., and Patricia Sharpe, of Issaquah, Wash.; a brother, Frank Pence of Albuquerque, N.M.; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: MEMORIAL FUND Memorial contributions in the name of Clarence O. Pence can be made to the Millwood Community Presbyterian Church or the Eastern Washington University Foundation.