Captain Ernest Clyde Connelley, Jr., USN Ret. died July 14, 2017 in the loving care of his devoted daughter-in-law, Sharon Connelley of the home in McLean, VA. He was born December 29, 1924 in Little Rock, AR, the son of Captain Ernest Clyde Connelley Sr., USA, Arkansas National Guard, and his wife, Lois T. Gibson Connelley. His mother later had twin boys, Harold and Charles, but she died December 4, 1927 at the sanatorium in Booneville, AR. Captain Clyde Sr. was leader of Battery “B”, 142nd Field Artillery from Paris. His unit participated in the military expedition into Mexico to find the Mexican revolutionary and guerrilla Pancho Villa who had raided Columbus, New Mexico. This was where Captain Clyde Sr. met General John “Black Jack” Pershing. After this, Battery “B” was moved to France and readied to enter hostilities in World War I. Clyde Sr. owned & operated a mercantile business in Scranton, AR but was soon wiped out by the Great Depression, leaving him with three small children to care for. His father and mother, Theodore Jordan and Voisie Humphrey Connelley, with the help of their daughter, Maude, assumed the care of Clyde Jr. in Paris, AR.
Clyde Sr. later moved to Little Rock for a position with the Arkansas land office. Needing help to raise the twins Harold and Charles, he employed a young woman from Scranton, Margaret Kremer. Later he married Gladys Williams Hagenbeck. Gladys’ son and Clyde Jr.’s half brother, Master Chief Carl William Hagenbeck, Jr., USN, was on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in Pearl Harbor & participated in 20 naval engagements in WWII. Captain Clyde Sr. served in World War II and was promoted to Major.
Clyde Jr. had a wonderful young life in Paris, attending school, playing football, delivering newspapers, being a boy scout in troop 41, & playing cornet in Mr. Soul’s Paris High School band. Next door his Uncle and Aunt, Larry and Maxine Connelley served many a good meal. Boyhood friends included Bill Harris and his best friend Billy Fitts.
While Clyde was a teenager, he, his Grandmother and Aunt Maude took a trip to Houston, TX to visit his Uncle, Lt. Commander Harold Connelley who was a graduate of Annapolis, class of 1923 & was an officer on the Heavy Cruiser USS Indianapolis docked there. Clyde Jr. was able to tour the ship and there he determined to be in the Navy. He graduated from Paris High School in 1942 and enrolled in Arkansas State Teachers College. In December 1942, at age 17, Clyde joined the Navy. In July, 1943 he began the V-12 program for future Naval Reserve officers at the Arkansas Agricultural and Mechanical College in Monticello. From there he completed his Naval Reserve Midshipman training at Columbia University, New York. After his commissioning, in May of 1945, Clyde was sent to the PT Boat (Patrol Torpedo) Squadron 11 operating off of the coast of Morita Island, Netherlands East Indies. As the Executive Officer of PT 185, Clyde was instrumental in saving the lives of a number of Japanese Army soldiers whose ocean going canoe had capsized when they were surprised off shore at night by his boat. Clyde literally grabbed them up out of the ocean with his hands. He was very tall, about 6’ 4.5” and his crew held him over the side of the boat by his feet. Later, at the end of the war he was assigned as executive officer of the USS Mahogany, a disabled net tender in the harbor of Guam. Before it was scuttled, he salvaged the engine and generator and used them to build the first electrical light system on Guam. It was there on Guam where he completed his application to make his career in the US Navy.
Tall, handsome, and dark with a suntan, Clyde returned to Paris on furlough. He and his friends were building a clay tennis court on the south lawn of the high school grounds on a scorching summer day. Beautiful and smart, Katy Lou Lloyd caught Clyde’s eye when she & her girlfriends walked past them on the sidewalk and later returned to bring the men some cold, homemade lemonade from her nearby home on Chism street. This was the beginning a life long relationship. They married July 24, 1948 in Paris, AR. Catherine Louise Lloyd Connelley, “Katy Lou” was a loving and devoted Navy wife who traveled the world, always supporting Clyde in his career. They lived in many places including Norfolk, VA, Newport, RI, Key West, FL, Brunswick, GA, Long Beach, CA, Coronado, CA, Yokohama, Japan, and Guam.
Clyde was promoted to 1st Lieutenant & served as the main battery officer on the USS Albany, the flagship of the 6th fleet in the Mediterranean. He then continued his service by completing the General Line Officers School in Newport, RI. Clyde was then assigned as commanding officer of several patrol and submarine chasers off of FL. Then in 1952 he was stationed at the fleet sonar school where he became an instructor, then commanding officer of the antisubmarine warfare tactical section in Key West. In March 1956 he became the Executive Officer of the USS Goodrich, a radar picket destroyer patrolling along the Israeli-Egyptian border to help stem the Mid-East crisis that finally culminated in the Nationalization of the Suez Canal. When fighting erupted she sped sped back to the Mediterranean in November 1956 to protect Americans in that area and to serve notice that the United States was determined to contain and terminate the conflict. After that Clyde was the Operations Officer of the USS St. Paul, Heavy Cruiser based in Yokosuka, Japan. In August 1962 he was assigned as Commanding Officer of the USS Picking which escorted the aircraft carrier Ranger during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She was deployed to the 7th Fleet on March 13, 1964 where she performed escort duty off Vietnam in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
In August 1964 Clyde was sent to the Naval War College, Newport, RI where he was a student of Naval warfare, then instructor of Navy command and the foreign officers. He and Katy Lou made life time friends of Naval officers from all over the world. In August 1967 he became Commanding Officer of the USS Klondike, a very large destroyer tender and repair ship. She could repair and refit as many as 4 destroyers at once. Captain Clyde Jr. had the pleasure of hosting his uncle Captain Harold H. Connelley, USN, Ret. on a cruise up the west coast.
His final work for the Navy was at the Pentagon in Washington, DC where he was with the Joint Staff of Strategic plans, Middle East Desk of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He retired December 1, 1974. Clyde received the following awards and decorations: Meritorious Service Metal: American Theater: Asiatic Pacific Theater: Philippine Liberation (One Star): European Occupation: World War II Victory Medal: National Defense Service Medal. Captain Ernest Clyde Connelley Jr. was truly one of the “Greatest Generation”.
After retirement from the Navy, Clyde was employed by Raytheon Corp. and subsequently oversaw track work for the Washington D.C. regional transit system. Clyde was an avid lifelong reader & learner with an endless curiosity for history, religion, astronomy, sciences, medical advances and politics. Clyde was also a great story teller, and he took immense pleasure in an array of music & dance. He was an ardent animal lover who enjoyed the constant companionship of many cherished dogs and cats. He always supported many charitable causes.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 66 years, Catherine Louise “Katy Lou” Connelley, his dear son, Ernest Clyde Connelley III, his father Major Ernest Clyde Connelley Sr., USA, Ret., his mother Lois T. Gibson, his stepmother Gladys Williams Hagenbeck Connelley, his brother Major Harold H. Connelley Sr., USA, Ret., and brother Charles Connelley, his nephew Harold H. Connelley Jr., nephew Michael Connelley and half-brother Master Chief Carl Wlliam Hagenbeck Jr., USN, Ret., Mother and Father-in-law Dora Idel Sherrell Lloyd and Roy Marvin Lloyd, Grandmother Voisie Humphrey Connelley and grandfather Theodore Jordan Connelley, and Connelley aunts and uncles, Jessie Charles (JC) Connelley, Margaret Addie Connelley Louder, Theodore Jord Connelley, Nancy Maude Connelley Smith (Mrs. Rufus Smith Sr.) his loving Aunt who raised Clyde Jr., Captain Harold Haskell Connelley, USN, Ret., Neil Humphrey Connelley and Laurence Kenneth (Larry) Connelley & wife Helen Maxine, and cousin, Peggy Jean Louder.
He is survived by his daughter Catherine Louise Barton and her husband Tom Barton of Shreveport, LA, his daughter-in-law, Sharon Camper Connelley of Arlington, VA, brother-in-law, Roy Sherrell Lloyd and wife Sue of Paris, AR, Connelley cousin Peggy Rawlins of Grand Junction, CO, niece Teri Rawlins Cardell and husband Bill of Palisade, CO, cousin Janet Summers of Nashville, TN, nephews Steve Summers and Scott Summers of Nashville, TN, Clint Summers of Alaska, niece Leanne Summers Ingram of Franklin, TN, Cousins James Parker Connelley and wife Lisa Marie of Spring, TX, Dr. Laurence Kenneth Connelley Jr., and wife Linda Sue of Paris, AR; nephews Laurence K. Connelley III and Rodney David Connelley of Little Rock, AR, niece Melissa Udouj and husband Dr. Henry Udouj of Fort Smith, AR, nephew Mitchell Lloyd and wife Sharon of Rogers, AR, grand nieces Hannah Lloyd, Isabella Udouj, Megan Lloyd & grand nephew Joseph Udouj IV, and nephews Robert Casey Hagenbeck and Lieutenant General Franklin, “Buster” Hagenbeck, USA, Ret. of Jacksonville, FL and nieces Robin Hagenbeck Casale of the Bahamas and Carla Hagenbeck Armstrong of Orange Park, FL, his niece Carol Connelley of Eatontown, NJ, grand niece Jennifer Connelley also of Eatontown, and grand nephew Robert Connelley of Neptune, NJ.
Clyde has made an Anatomical Gift Donation of his whole body for scientific study to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Rev. Dr. Graham F. Bardsley, Director of Pastoral Care at Virginia Hospital Center and former pastor of Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church, has served as a trusted spiritual advisor to the Connelley family. Date for Memorial Service and Interment with Full Military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery is pending. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Paris First United Methodist Church, 205 North Elm Street, Paris, AR 72855.