A hundred years is a long time. Some people who live to see 100 dread the day-to-day routine of what their life has become.
Not Clarence Majerus.
Born Nov. 24, 1918, on a farm in Spirit Lake, Iowa, he later moved to Harland, Iowa. Majerus doesn’t let a moment pass without flashing his trademark smile or brightening someone else’s day.
His servant’s heart is what keeps him going.
“My life I donated to helping others,” he said. It’s not just lip service either.
Majerus’ life of service began at a young age, taking after his parents as they dished up hearty breakfasts for passersby on the train that would stop near their home. The meal was free of charge to the strangers, as Majerus’ parents knew nobody had the means to pay for anything during the Great Depression times.
After spending the first part of his childhood in Harland, the Majerus family packed up their belongings and headed back to Spirit Lake to be closer to the water.
Majerus eventually graduated from Spirit Lake High School and found a job at a Texaco service station. He married his first wife, JoHannah Speeter after getting drafted by the Army to serve in World War II, where he served as a staff sergeant in the 803rd Field Artillery Unit while on Leyte Island in the Philippines. As the chief mess sergeant, Majerus was in charge of making sure the mess tent was in tip-top shape and had the capabilities to feed hungry soldiers.
Majerus recalls the mess tent being pushed up next to the jungle’s edge, draped in camouflage nets and palm leaves.
After feeding his troops one day, he noticed three Filipino children, each with a tin cup in their hands with smiles on their faces.
“It broke my heart to see them,” Majerus said.
Majerus fed them what food he had left over.
The next day, there were more kids. And more kids the day after that until pretty soon the line of kids spanned an entire block.
Majerus told his cooks to make whatever extra food they could so they could feed the children after the soldiers.
Pretty soon, Majerus was forced to go out and forage for food to feed the kids on his own. He was given a Jeep to use to cross a mountain back to a supply station where he could load up the Jeep with food and bring it back to the mess tent to feed the kids.
Nine times, Majerus made the trek over the mountain to gather food and bring it back, and there were times when he was nearly hit by mortar shells as the Japanese launched them in his direction. “It did my heart good to feed those kids,” he said.
Majerus returned to the United States and made his way back to Spirit Lake and eventually Clear Lake, Iowa, where he learned the auto body trade.
He then moved to Adrian, Minnesota, to begin his own auto body shop business and a slew of entrepreneurial business adventures, including buying and selling houses, and various automobile businesses.
“I would have been fired if I worked for somebody else,” he said laughingly. He filled his free time with traveling, hunting and fishing.
His wife died of cancer, but Clarence later remarried and stayed that way for 28 years, until April 11, 2017, when Clarence was 98.
He was returning from an appointment at a veterans hospital when his wife left a message on his phone to tell him he was locked out of his home and he could come by and pick up his clothes on the curb at 3 p.m.
By this time, Clarence had gone blind after a macular degeneration procedure gone wrong took away his vision.
Majerus, after all he had done serving other people and his country, was a 98-year-old blind homeless man.
Lonely and brokenhearted, Majerus had many people offer him their help.
One woman offered to pay his bills. She asked him to sign two checks and she would pay them later. His money was gone and her taxes got paid.
His family and friends came to his rescue.
Much of his family lives near the Princeton area or close by, so they decided to place him at Sterling Pointe Senior Living in Princeton.
After three weeks of getting used to a nice bed to sleep on and three meals a day, Majerus made a commitment to his fellow residents at Sterling Pointe to make each and every one of their lives better.
“I’m going to spend every bit of my time to make everyone happier,” he said. “The janitors, the cooks, everyone here,” he said.
He got one resident to come out of her shell and socialize with other residents, and now she’s one of the most outgoing residents at Sterling Pointe.
Other times, he’s helped people acquire some wheels — the scooter kind.
“After I got here, I decided I’m just gonna live my life and live a hell of a life,” he said.
After finalizing his divorce at age 99, Majerus said he’s now enjoying himself as much as ever, maybe even more.
“I have a lot of love in here, and I’m having more fun in here than a barrel of monkeys,” he said.