With the US Army's Faces of Strength 2010 video coming out, I am reminded that I am not an Army of One and I wonder if everyone else knows it. Being front and center with the horse and hearse at a funeral can sometimes lend the impression that I do it all. The truth is, and I always try to tell folks, there are so many who have sweat and bled to keep this company going. I can't name each and every person today, and I hope that those unnamed know that I know what they have done and will forever be grateful. So in no special order I want to give some much deserved credit to some really great people.
From the time we were small, our late mother, Maryanne Clancy, instilled in us a strong sense of civic duty. She always took care of others before herself. That set the foundation for this venture. And she was always there, whether in spirit or in person, at that first funeral and everyone thereafter. I never came home from a funeral that she didn't want to hear all about it. And she so meticulously kept care of newspaper clippings, mass cards and other memorabilia.
And my Dad, the late Wellington Joseph Clancy, who gave us a name, the inspiration and so much more. There is more to a name than most folks will ever realize.
And while I try and try to tell people this whole operation was the dream and baby of my brother, Barney Clancy, they still give me the credit for starting the business. I could never on my own, have thought to do this or put it all together. He did it all and I just fell in to the glory.
Albert, Jenn and Nate, made so many sacrifices to see this through. I missed a lot of school programs, birthday parties, ball games and family time because I was off doing funerals. And the kids did without so much because the money had to go to the "business." Jenn and Nate, were 7 and 4, respectively when we started the company and they grew up helping any way they could. Jenn was the little wife and mother at home and as she got older she took over handling the phone store and the finances so I could devote myself to this. I remember Nate at 5 & 6 years old, watching out the window for our headlights, so he could run out to shine a flashlight to guide me and open the gate to Mike's corral. He endured my anger and frustration as I struggled to soak and wrap Mike's hooves when he had his many abscesses. As soon as he was big enough, he went to every funeral he could. In his high school ag class, he built us a new trailer to pull to funerals.
Without Pat and Susie Gomez, I would have fallen on my face when I took over the business from Barney. I had no pickup to pull the trailer and had to hire people to haul us around, something I could little afford. One day Pat called me and asked for a ride to Pueblo to look at a pickup. With nothing better to do, I took him and watched him buy a 1984 Chevrolet dually for $5500. When we got back to Manzanola, he handed me the title and the keys and said, "Take this home to Albert, if he likes it, you keep it and pay me when you can." Needless to say it took awhile to pay him back, but he never said a word. And he and Susie never failed to stop by and show their support when we were giving carriage rides in town to make any dollar we could. To this day, they have been there for us through every triumph and every trial.
My siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends have all been there throughout, doing whatever I needed, usually without me even having to ask. Rain or shine, heat or cold, ugly or glamorous, they did the job.
I'd be remiss, if I didn't mention the horses; Mike, Dan, Lady and Duke. I had a choice to do this, and every day I make the choice to keep on doing it. They weren't given a choice, but without fail, in sickness or health, 1 mile or 9, 110 degrees or a blizzard, they pulled that coach with dignity and grace.
There was Will, Jodie and John at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs who believed in us from the first and did all they could to promote us. I think Mike liked John much more than he ever liked me.
When we started doing the soldiers' funerals, they took a very heavy emotional toll on me, with no one to share the physical, emotional and logistical burden. But very soon the wonderful folks in the Colorado PGR stepped in to help in any way they could. Jim & Wanda, Greg, the Brads, Ronnie,the Steves and all the others took me under their loving wings and helped to absorb the work and the grief. I gained a wonderful new family and a large stable crew in those folks.
We will forever be grateful to our military whose endless bravery and selfless sacrifice ensure our freedom. And the police and other escorts who led us safely through over 700 processions, in some of the most horrific traffic you could imagine.
Last but probably most important, were the the families who entrusted us with their precious cargo. The significance of being allowed to be a part of such an important day in their lives was an honor we will cherish til the end.
So please, when you see the horse and hearse going down the road, don't forget to notice the invisible army walking beside us, for they are the Faces of Strength of Wellington Carriage Company.
I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many "Americans Worth Dying For."
I have created this blog to hopefully inspire average, everyday Americans to do their part in supporting our troops by being “An American Worth Dying For.” If you are new to the site, please read oldest to newest.