Obituary: Clarence “Pete” Clapp
Clarence “Pete” Clapp, passed on July 18, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his 5 children, 7 grandchildren, 2 stepgrandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
As one of the early founders of the Aerosol Industry, he was instrumental in creating many consumer products as well as many pieces of the evolving Aerosol mechanics. His inventiveness, backed by hundreds of patents, lead to his having a positive impact on millions of lives the world over. Before beginning his illustrious career there were only two Aerosol products extant; one fire extinguisher and a pesticide. An early product was Formula 409 which many will remember as the first scrubbing bubbles product on the market.
Born in 1926 on a dairy farm, the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, he suffered the loss of his father at the tender age of 5. He had his own cow that he milked even at this young age and was responsible for many chores around the bustling farm.
Pete joined the Navy as soon as he was old enough and served on a PBY tender ship in the pacific theatre, specifically the Philippines. He was a radio operator on a favorite target of the Japanese dive bombers, a floating gasoline can. Fortunately for all of us his ship was spared.
After the Navy Pete attended the University of Illinois on the GI bill earning a degree in Chemistry. He hadn’t been there long before he met and married Doris Sexton from Danville. Shortly after their marriage they gave birth to their first son, William, so one can only imagine the dedication and hard work that went into achieving his degree.
Upon graduation he was employed at Continental Filling where he met his future business partners. In 1951, with borrowed funds of $4,500 from his mother, he left for California with John Marana, Frank Carson and Frank Cowles, all from Danville and each with the same bundle of cash ready to find a Filling line and building to set it up. Through a very fortuitous sequence of events they established Western Filling Corporation in City of Commerce, California.
In 1953 he packed up his growing family in his 1949 Ford, wife Doris, 5-year-old William, and newest addition, daughter Diana, nearly age one, and moved to East Los Angeles to a new home in Montebello, Ca.
Over the next few years Western Filling became a very busy and successful concern and was eventually merged in 1963 with Aerosol Technics Inc. Pete was promoted to President of the R&D department of ATI where he was required to pack up his family, now mom and five kids with the additions of Mark, Steve and baby Dan and move cross country to Milford, Connecticut in 1965.
After a couple of years with ATI and due to some differences of opinion with the President of the company Pete decided to strike out on his own. Unfortunately, having signed a 7 year non-compete clause with his former employer he couldn’t work in the industry he loved. He tried his hand at buying into different turnaround situations in various industries and most were just too big a turn to get all the way around.
Things were looking pretty bleak until, at the end of the 7 years, his friend Dan Folmer, and the gentleman he had mentored through college, and into the Aerosol business as a Chemist at Western had developed a new product called Griddle Mate, non-stick cooking spray. It was a patented product which Pete licensed for development on the East Coast. And Creative Products was born. With the help of his sons Bill, Mark and Dan the company mushroomed to another very successful business with the additional birth of Micro Care Corp which flowered into a separate very successful business entity. All these businesses, over the years employed and nurtured many thousands of people for which Pete took great pride.
In 1987, in another big and bold move, Pete moved the Creative operation to Rossville, Illinois, returning to his roots and taking son Dan with him as second in command. It was a very successful move for the company and the community of Rossville.
In 1997 Pete sold Creative Products and retired. They moved to Las Vegas, NV in 2006 to be next door to Bill who helped them with their ageing infirmities. While there they got to be present at the Graduations of granddaughter Jennifer, Dr. of Chiropractic, and Grandson Austin, computer programmer and Linguist in Japanese. They were also privileged to see the births of two Great-granddaughters and spent time with them during the first three years of their lives.
Age and infirmity finally caught up with both Pete and Doris but not before celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary. They moved to a skilled care facility in 2015 in Wilmington, NC where Doris passed on March 4, 2016 at age 88. Pete, at age 92, and Doris are together again looking down on us with many fond memories of a life well lived. They will be missed by the many people whose lives they have touched.
A Celebration of Pete’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 24, 2018 at Sunset Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 3940 N Vermilion St, Danville, IL, with Pastor Raymie Gordon officiating. Visitation will be held from 10:00am to 11:00 a.m. prior to the service at the funeral home. He will be laid to rest at Walnut Corner Cemetery.
Please join the family in sharing memories, photos and videos on his tribute wall at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com.