Clyde Colton, a member of an Elk Grove pioneering family, died at the age of 95 on Sept. 30.
His family said that his cause of death was pancreatic cancer.
Born on July 22, 1926, Clyde grew up on a large dairy ranch between Grant Line Road and the Cosumnes River. The property was in the possession of Clyde’s grandfather, Morris Colton, by the early 1880s.
Following Morris’ death in 1927, his only son, Chet, took over the operations of the ranch for the following 14 years.
Clyde and his brother, Neal, who were the sons of Chet and Mary Colton, later operated Colton Bros. dairy on a portion of their family’s ranch.
In addition to working on his family’s property during his youth, Clyde enjoyed hunting with his father, horseback riding, fishing on the Cosumnes River and Deer Creek, and riding his bicycle to Bryan Miles’ store, where the Sheldon Inn restaurant and bar now operates.
Clyde graduated from Pleasant Grove Elementary School on June 30, 1940, and he later attended Elk Grove High School.
Mitso “Mits” Yamamoto, 95, met Clyde while they were attending Pleasant Grove Elementary in the 1930s.
“When I went to the second grade, he came to the first grade,” he said. “That’s how long I’ve known him, except for some times when we lost contact with each other. We only had two rooms (in the schoolhouse), so he was in the same room with us. We never were in the same class.”
Yamamoto remembered Clyde as one of the larger students at the school.
“He was afraid to play sports or anything, because he might hurt somebody,” he said. “He had a real heart. He was just a gentle giant.”
Yamamoto, who was sent to a Japanese internment camp in 1942, recalled reuniting with Clyde.
“I started working on swing shift (at the Campbell Soup Co., on Franklin Boulevard), not knowing he was working there,” he said. “About two or three years later, when I got on day shift, I see this big guy who looks familiar.”
Yamamoto, who remained a close friend with Clyde until his death, praised his friend.
“He was a quite guy,” he said. “He was just a good guy as far as I’m concerned. He’s appreciative of everything and he don’t knock anybody. All I can think of is I don’t think he has a mean bone in his body.”
Both Clyde and Yamamoto worked for Campbell Soup for 38 years. Clyde also worked as a school bus driver for the Elk Grove Unified School District, and he drove a milk truck for the Crystal Cream and Butter Co. in Sacramento.
While still living on his family’s historic property, Clyde met Mildred “Millie” Gasaway, who would become his wife for three quarters of a century through their marriage on Jan. 29, 1946.
Millie recalled how she met Clyde.
“The first time I saw him, he was only about 13, maybe,” she said. “I lived over here on Bruceville (Road). My dad was milking cows for (the Coltons).”
Millie added that she was not initially interested in Clyde.
“I didn’t dislike him,” she said. “He was just a little, old, chubby boy,” she said. “I didn’t care nothing about boys (at that time). I was only 12 then.
“The funny thing was, my cousin that was living on the ranch, her dad was doing the milking for them. She really fell for him. She was going to marry him, boy. She was going to marry him. I said, ‘When I start to high school, I’ll take him away from you.’ And it happened that way. Oh, she hated me after that.”
Together, Clyde and Millie had two children, Daryl and Susan, three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
Clyde’s family described him as a kindhearted family man who enjoyed activities such as woodworking, fishing, camping, trips to Oregon, word search puzzles, and watching wrestling matches and hunting shows on television.
He was also proud of his vintage Ford Ranchero and the antique tractor that he restored after obtaining it from his family’ s ranch.
Susan told the Citizen that she is very thankful that Clyde was her father.
“He was very supportive and always interested in things that I was doing,” she said. “Family was everything to him. His values and his morals taught me to always try to do what’s right, to be a better person.
“He used to tell my son (Bryan), ‘It’s just as easy to be good as it is to be bad,’ if he would get into trouble or something. I couldn’t ask for a better father. And everyone tells me I’m a lot like him, so that makes me happy.”
Clyde’s granddaughter, Debbie Walsh, also paid tribute to him.
“He was an honest and caring man,” she said. “He always found the good in everybody, never had anything bad to say about anybody. (He had) some of the qualities you just don’t see in people anymore, and he had a ton of that. There’s just never been a day I’ve questioned his love and loyalty. He’s my hero.”
Millie described how she believes Clyde would like to be remembered.
“As a good person that never really thought bad of anybody,” she said. “You never really heard him talk bad about anybody. He was like my grandmother always said, ‘There’s a little good in everybody.’ That’s the way he kind of thought.”
A celebration of Clyde’s life will be held at the Herberger Family Elk Grove Funeral Chapel, 9101 Elk Grove Blvd., on Oct. 26 at 11 a.m. A public viewing will be held at the same location on Oct. 25 from 4-7 p.m.