By The Mercury

Joe D. McClure, 83, formerly a longtime resident of Alta Vista, died Jan. 29 in his home in Overland Park surrounded by his family.

The family provided some of the following informtion.

Born Oct. 30, 1930, in Wamego, Joe was raised on a farm near McDowell Creek Road in the Sunnyside community on the outskirts of Manhattan.

Joe attended Sunnyside Elementary school in southern Riley County, and graduated from Manhattan High School in 1948. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953, stationed in El Paso, and later Fort Monroe, Va.

Joe was instantly “smitten” when he met the love of his life, Shirley, while she was playing AAU basketball and he was one of the referees. A controversial foul was issued, and the sparks flew between Joe and Shirley. They were married Nov. 21, 1954, at the historic Mariadahl Swedish Lutheran Church near Cleburne.

After interim career choices as a bull rider, ‘55 Pontiac race car driver, farmer, produce seller and Coca-Cola route driver in Manhattan, along with an unsuccessful longhorn cattle-buying business with his cousin, Paul “Bub” McClure, Joe realized his dream of owning his own business.

In 1958, he opened a De Laval dairy equipment business in the garage at their home near St. George. Moving to Alta Vista in 1962, Joe expanded his business and opened a hardware store, first in downtown Alta Vista, and later at their farm off K-177. The business further evolved into Joe McClure Farm Equipment/Trailer Sales until his retirement in June 2012, when they moved to Overland Park.

Throughout his years in Alta Vista, Joe was a proud resident of the Flint Hills and functioned as a civic leader and a dedicated participant in city, county, and state support, serving on the Alta Vista City Council, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and as a special deputy sheriff in Wabaunsee County from 1963 to 1976 and 1991 until 2008.

Joe also was elected as Wabaunsee County commissioner from November 1976 through January 1991, and then became involved with state-wide and national county governance from 1982 to 1986. Joe was on the Board of Directors and Kansas Association of Counties from 1987 to 1990, and the Kansas Board of Directors for the National Association of Counties (NACO) from 1987 to 1990, and served as the chairman of the Ag Committee of NACO from 1989 to 1990. The family remains members of the Simpson United Methodist Church in Alta Vista.

An avid hunter, fisherman and sports enthusiast, Joe was a huge Kansas State University football and basketball fan. Watching and talking sports was something he thoroughly enjoyed with his son.

Joe’s other hobbies included an extensive gun collection and pocket knives.

He was a World War II buff and loved nothing better than a good John Wayne western. Joe, Shirley and Gwen traveled to the Normandy region in France and attended D-Day ceremonies and memorials in the area six different times from 1999 to 2006.

He also discovered an interest in flea markets and sold a variety of old farm implements and tools.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Marjorie (Dugan) McClure, along with a sister, Betty (McClure) Troutman, and a brother, Hal McClure.

Joe will be missed by his loving wife, Shirley (Peterson) McClure, along with their four children, Gwen McClure, Overland Park; Teri Elliott and her husband, Dwight, Leawood; Jaye Berry and her husband, Dave, Galena; and Mack McClure, Overland Park.

Joe is also survived by granddaughter Jayme (Berry) Loyd and her husband, Kevin, Joplin, Mo. and their four children; and two great-grandchildren, Greenlee and David Berry, Galena. Surviving siblings include Paulie (McClure) Hagedorn, Barnes, and Karolyn (McClure) Leary, Washington, Iowa, and countless nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews and friends near and far.

Joe will be remembered by all who knew him for his stories (some were actually true), his infectious sense of humor and the wonderful way he embraced life.

Fond memories and condolences for the family may be left at A memorial service in celebration of Joe’s life will be held later this spring in Alta Vista, when the prairie is green.

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