Revered produce vendor, philanthropist dies in crash
Clancy donated all of the earnings from his business back to the community
A man well-known for his charitable efforts in Spokane’s West Central neighborhood and beyond was killed Monday in a two-car collision.
James Clancy, who ran Clancy’s Produce, died at the scene of the 9 a.m. crash, according to close friends.
“It’s just really a shock,” said Kay Culnane, who had known Clancy for several years and owns the Maxwell House Tavern, where Clancy’s Produce stand was located. “I was talking to him this morning and half-hour later we got the call. It was just shocking. He was one of our best friends.”
The deadly crash occurred in the intersection of Geiger Boulevard and Thomas Mallen Road when a dump truck struck the passenger-side door of a delivery van, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators on Monday hadn’t identified either of the drivers, but Clancy’s friends say he was driving the delivery van.
“He was loved by everybody because he was always so happy-go-lucky and just a neat person,” Culnane said.
Clancy operated his modest stand just west of the Maxwell House Tavern at 1425 N. Ash St., on land loaned to him by the tavern. He’d operated the business since 1991.
He bought produce to resell at his own stand from wholesaler Perione’s Produce, according to Pat Davidson, president of that company. Clancy had been a customer of Perione’s Produce for about 20 years.
“It’s sad,” Davidson said. “Very sad. He’d been here a long time, and therefore knew most everybody here.”
Davidson said he heard Clancy was on his way to pick up produce when the crash occurred.
“From what I know, he was on his way out here,” Davidson said. “He was here pretty much every day.”
Davidson and others who knew Clancy described him as generous.
“He was a very outgoing, happy person that enjoyed what he did and enjoyed people,” Davidson said. “He’s very well known, very well thought of, very generous to people. His loss is going to impact a lot of people.”
Clancy often gave away food from his stand to people in need. He never made a profit off the produce stand, but instead gave his meager proceeds back to the community he cherished, including organizations such as the West Central Community Center, C.O.P.S. West, the Union Gospel Mission and The Spokesman-Review’s Christmas Fund.
“He would donate some money at the end of the year, which we used to get some things for a family that was down and out for Christmas,” said Harold Bowker, of C.O.P.S. West. “I’ve lived in the neighborhood for a long time, and it was always a good place to stop and get stuff during the summer. He was always very congenial and everything. He’s going to be missed.”
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“He donates all of his time and everything,” Culnane said. “He wouldn’t even take any pay out of it. He just donated it to charity. Everybody is just really having a hard time.”
Clancy was born in 1927 on the East Coast, and retired from the military in 1968. His wife’s family is from Spokane, so he came to work for Spokane Transit Authority. He decided he wanted to have a produce stand when he retired from there.
“Why do I give the money away? I have a good pension, I don’t need it,” Clancy told The Spokesman-Review last July. “I’m never sick, you know. I’ll probably do this until I die.”