Colonel Clarance E. Shillings, 96, of Goldthwaite, Texas passed away on Thursday, August 18, 2022, with family by his side.
Clarance Eugene was born near Hooker, Oklahoma, in 1925 to Oscar and Ozella (Garrison) Shillings. His father’s work required the family to move frequently; by the time they arrived in Pampa, Texas, for his junior and senior years of high school, he had attended 32 different schools. It was at Pampa High School that he met Allene McKinney, the love of his life and loving wife of more than 78 years. They were married on June 1, 1944.
Two months after graduating and getting married, Shillings was drafted into military service as a buck private and assigned to the Army Air Corps. After basic training and teletype school, he was sent to Batista Field, Cuba. At the end of World War II, he was transferred to Puerto Rico. In 1948 he received a direct commission as a second lieutenant.
After a three-month assignment in England as the ground communications officer for the 97th Bomb Group during the Berlin Air Lift, Clarance started his rise through the ranks by taking advantage of every educational opportunity and special assignment that came his way. His internal drive to achieve, strategic mind-set, ever curious nature, ability to anticipate potential problems, insistence on delivering excellence in everything he did, and his uncanny photographic memory made him a veritable force of nature.
Stateside tours found him at Sheppard Field, Texas, Chanute Field, Illinois, MacDill AFB, Florida, Biggs AFB, Texas, Scott AFB, Illinois, Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and Washington DC.
In addition to Cuba and Puerto Rico, international tours of duty took Shillings (and most times his family) all over the world including England, Morocco, Spain, and ultimately, Japan.
During his last stateside assignment from March of 1969, to March of 1971, Shillings was deputy commander of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), where his duties were to perform command, staff, and administrative functions for the President of the United States, the First Family, the Vice President, the Secret Service, and other activities of the Executive Branch as directed. It was during this tour that he was promoted to full Colonel.
Upon his return from Japan in September 1972, Col. Shillings retired in Texas with 28 years of distinguished service. He and his family lived in San Marcos before relocating to Amarillo in 1975. For almost three decades they stayed in one place. He was a real estate broker, Amarillo College instructor, and he served on the county Appraisal Review Boards.
Beyond living close to extended family and once again experiencing the cool nights and crisp Panhandle mornings, Clarance and Allene thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with their fellow Class of ’44 Harvesters, and helping plan several reunions.
Clarance and Allene moved to Goldthwaite in 2002 to be close to their son. In 2007, Col. Shillings was inducted into the Pampa High School Harvester Hall of Fame.
He was preceded in death by his parents, daughters Valerie and Teresa, his brother Jesse, and son-in-law Jerry Stodghill.
Col. Shillings is survived by his wife, Allene, of Goldthwaite, children Sharon Stodghill of Trinidad, CO, Kent (Jill) Shillings of Goldthwaite, and Candace (Ray) Fitzpatrick of Plano, TX, brother Harold Shillings of Amarillo, 7 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 5-7 on Friday, August 26, at Stacy-Wilkins Funeral Home in Goldthwaite. A short graveside service will be held the following morning for family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you reach out to a veteran, perhaps share a meal, thank them for their service, and ask them to share a story or two with you. Then, listen with reverence. We did, and our lives will forever be enriched because of the experience.