Capt Walter Cornelius Claassen


Capt Walter Cornelius Claassen

Newton, Harvey County, Kansas, USA
Death 21 Jun 2013 (aged 96)
North Newton, Harvey County, Kansas, USA
Burial Newton, Harvey County, Kansas, USA
Plot Greenwood-original-12-26-2
Memorial ID 112711515 View Source

Father: Cornelius W. Claassen (1887-1971)
Mother: Addie L. Lander (1885-1974)

Baptized: ?
Married: 11 May 1946, to Helen E. Dodson, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Children: Patricia Ann, Cornelius W., Susan L., Robert L.
Siblings: Barbara J., *.*, Lander L., Maurice L.

Veteran: World War II, US Navy, entered service 28 Nov 1942, served in the South Pacific, as a ships officer (Ensign) aboard USS Lackawanna (AO-40). Walt had 22 years of active and reserve duty holding the permanent rank of Captain (O-6).

Walter Claassen, 96, died Friday, June 21, 2013, at Kidron Bethel Healthcare in North Newton.

He was born Feb. 26, 1917, in Newton to Cornelius William and Addie Faye (Lander) Claassen. He married Helen Elizabeth Dodson on May 11, 1947, in Milwaukee, Wis. She preceded him in death on Dec. 17, 2005.

Walter was a lifetime member of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as ruling elder and a member of the church choir for more than 50 years. He was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Senior Chamber of Commerce and regional president of the Kansas State Chamber of Commerce. He received the Jaycee's Distinguished Service Award and the Newton Chamber's Citizen of the Year Award.

He was a member of the Kansas Banker's Association and regional vice president of the organization. He received membership into the Kansas Bankers Association Fifty Year Club in 1970 at the association's annual convention that year in Topeka. He served on the Kansas-Missouri regional advisory board of the Small Business Administration for many years. He was the original stockholder of the Hesston Corp. and served on its board until the company was sold to FIAT of Italy. Hesston Corp. is the third largest farm machinery company in the United States.

He served on the USD 373 Board of Education for eight years, the Newton Library Board for eight years, and the Newton City Commission for four years, the Bethel College Board of Directors for 12 years, and served many years on the United Methodist Youthville board and the Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America board. He was the founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Prince of Peace Chapel in Aspen, Colo., and organizer and drive chairman of the First United Fund Drive in Newton following World War II.

Walter was the drive chairman for the Bethel Hospital Capital Fund Drive to add additional hospital rooms and the Newton campaign chairman for Newton's Recreation Center at the Methodist Youthville Campus. He was a board member of the Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra and played in the first violin section. He was a board member of the Family Health Plan Permanent Fund for many years and served on the IRS Volunteer Tax Assistance Program. He also served Meals on Wheels for more than 30 years.

He built the first new building in downtown Newton after World War II, the Kansas State Bank, in 1957. Following that, the First Federal Savings and Loan Building on Broadway and Main and the second expanded Kansas State Bank in 1970 were additional new buildings on Main Street.

He was a graduate of Newton High School, Kansas University, and the Harvard School of Business. He was an alumnus of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He received the Balfour Award in 1939 for the outstanding Sigma Chi in the Missouri Valley Province, which included all Sigma Chi Chapters in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and had 22 years of active and reserve duty holding the permanent rank of captain. He was a 50-year member of VFW, American Legion and was a 50-year member of the Lion's Club. He was awarded the Lion's Club Melvin E. Jones Award in 1996. He was a 32nd Degree Mason and member of the Newton Lodge. He was a member of the Hole in One Club at Fox Ridge Country Club and the Mt. Dora Country Club in Mt. Dora, Fla.

In recent years, Walter was awarded the Distinguished Award for the Newton High School Alumni in 2007 and the Friend of Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Education in 2008. He endowed the Walter and Helen Claassen Chair in Business at Bethel College, North Newton, the Helen E. Claassen Newton Public Library Endowment for ongoing library needs and expansion, the Susan L. Claassen Endowment at Schowalter Villa, Hesston, for the Child Care Center that is attached to the Villa, and a Scholarship Endowment Fund for nursing at Hesston College, Hesston. The Newton Presbyterian Manor recently dedicated a wing at the Manor to Cornelius and Addie Claassen, who were participants in the original project in the 1950s.

In 2003 he published a book titled "Memoirs of a Kansas Banker." Copies are in the local library, Newton Historical Society, and Bethel College Library.

The family would like to express their appreciation to Harden Hospice and the staff of Kidron Bethel Healthcare for their excellent care and concern for Walter during the preceding weeks.

Family members include two sons: Cornelius William Claassen II, Columbia, Mo., and Dr. Robert L. Claassen of Kansas City, Mo., and two daughters: Dr. Patricia Ann Purvis of Wichita, and Susan L. Claassen of Hesston. He has two grandchildren: Mark Purvis and his wife Tricia of Seattle, Wash., and Lander Cooney and her husband John of Bozeman, Mont.; three great-grandchildren: Jack and Tucker Purvis of Seattle, Wash., and Juniper Helen Cooney of Bozeman, Mont.

He was preceded in death by his wife: Helen Claassen on Dec. 17, 2005; a sister: Barbara Jane Smucker on Feb. 17, 2004; and two brothers: Maurice L. Claassen and Lander L. Claassen.

There will be a memorial service at First Presbyterian Church, 900 Columbus Ave., Newton, on Friday, June 28, 2013, at 11 a.m., with the Rev. James W. Anderson presiding. Visitation will be 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2013, at Petersen Funeral Home, with the family receiving friends from 6:30 to 8 p.m., also at the funeral home. A private family committal service will be in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials in Walter's name to the Kidron Bethel Retirement Community for expansion purposes, 3001 Ivy Drive, North Newton, KS 67117, or the First Presbyterian Church Permanent Endowment Fund, 900 Columbus Ave., Newton, KS 67114.

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