Clyde Lee Popplewell, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and long-time respected educator, passed away on July 16th, surrounded by loving family members. Lee was born on October 19, 1917 in Mountain Grove, Missouri. At the time of his passing, he was 97 years old. As a young child, he moved with his family to Buhl, Idaho in 1919 and lived there the rest of his life. Lee was six years old when his father passed away, leaving his mother to raise six children during very difficult times. He always had a spot in his heart for his mother, admiring her strength of character and work ethic.
Upon Dad's graduation from Buhl High School in 1935, he worked to save money to attend Albion State Normal School. He attended Albion for two years, which was the standard of the times, and returned to Buhl to teach. He said it felt a little funny now teaching seniors, who had been freshmen when HE was a senior! It was at Albion that Dad met the love of his life, Geneva Elizabeth Hollifield from Hansen. Dad enlisted in World War II as a member of the United States Coast Guard. He was in charge of loading huge transport ships with loads of various munitions for the war effort around the world. Four Popplewell siblings served in the war. Mom and Dad were married during this time and were stationed in Benicia, California for the remainder of his military service. Mom and Dad then returned to Buhl to continue their teaching careers. In 1950, daughter Genny was born and then in 1952, son Ted completed their family. Dad later received his Master's Degree from the University of Idaho in the early 1950's. He was a firm believer in the power of education!
Dad served the Buhl School District in many capacities during his lifetime. He was a teacher, coach and principal. In fact, he was Buhl's head basketball coach during the time of the last game in the old basement gym of Buhl High School, and the first game in the 1950's addition, now called the 7th Street Gym. Later in his career, Dad was the junior high principal and then was named the elementary principal for the district. He served the two elementary buildings, the F.H.Buhl School and the Lincoln Elementary School. When the present elementary school was built, he opened the new school and then served as its principal until he retired in 1980. At his retirement, his staff and school board voted to rename the school in his honor.
After the passing of his wife and daughter, Dad became an integral part of Ted and Lynn's family. During these years, he developed a very close relationship with his grandsons Ty, Joe, and Nick. His grandsons affectionately gave him the nickname of "Old Man" and they loved to give him a bad time. The boys know extensive pieces of Buhl history because of all of Grandpa's stories through the years. Since Ted and Lynn were very involved in their education careers, Lee became the chauffeur of his grandsons until they were old enough to drive. He loved to pick the boys up from football and basketball practice and always had a cold Gatorade for each of them. He never missed an athletic event that his grandsons were participating in, no matter the distance. When Dad was no longer able to drive, Lynn and Ted made sure he got to games. Lynn and Lee were also very close and she made sure he made his doctor's appointments and that the refrigerator was full.
Dad's four loves, outside of family, were the Buhl Indians, the Idaho Vandals, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Buhl Rotary Club. Dad received many awards throughout his life. He served on several boards, including the Magic Valley Regional Hospital Board, the Clear Lake Country Club Board, the Buhl Rotary Club, and the Buhl School Board. For several of these, he served as president or chairman. Dad was President of the Clear Lake Country Club during the years of expanding to an 18 hole course. For his many years of coaching, officiating, and his involvement in high school sports, he was elected to the Idaho High School Activities Association Hall of Fame. There were many other honors, too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that he served his community well and that we have lost an important link to the history of the area with his passing.
Lee is survived by his son Ted and daughter-in-law Lynn; his grandsons and their wives - Ty and Annie of Buhl, Nick and Chelsea of Fort Collins, and Joe and Tiffannie of Albuquerque. He leaves two great grandsons, Isaac and Carter, and another baby arriving in December. He also leaves many cherished nieces and nephews, and many other relatives in the area. Lee was preceded in death by his wife, daughter, his brothers (Mason, Homer, Lynn and Roe) and his sister Florence Blakley.
Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, July 24th at Popplewell Elementary School in Buhl. Burial will follow at West End Cemetery. Friends may greet the family from 5:00-7:00 on Thursday at Farmer Funeral Chapel (130 9th Ave N.) in Buhl.
A special thank you to Visions Hospice for helping Dad peacefully transition to the ultimate golf course above. Lastly, being the ultimate Buhl Indian Fan, memorials may be made to the Buhl High School Athletic Department for sports for boys and girls.