Dec. 31, 1932-May 6, 2018
Clinton C. Froke of Deer Lodge, Montana, passed away suddenly in Butte on May 6, 2018. He had made great strides in recovering from a severe stroke last June and had been residing at The Springs assisted living in Butte.
Clint was born on Dec. 31, 1932, to Ole and Hilda Froke in Summit, South Dakota. He had a poor childhood, and with four significantly older brothers often found himself with an empty plate at mealtime. A month after Pearl Harbor, his family moved to Ingleside, California where his dad worked in an aircraft plant. Young Clint, meanwhile, sold peanuts and popcorn along the Imperial Highway. After the war, the family returned to South Dakota where Clint delivered milk and rounded up cows. After graduating from high school, he began work for the Milwaukee Railroad digging holes for power poles. He became a lineman in 1951 and, in 1952, was the very last electrician apprentice. In March 1953, Clint received a draft notice and reported for basic training in Fort Lewis, then NCO school at Fort Ord, and finally infantry school at Fort Benning where he also earned his first radio license. As a Milwaukee RR lineman in Wisconsin, he lived in the guard house storeroom, sleeping on the teletype table and nearly starving to death. While working at Union Station in Chicago, he was able to improve his situation with the purchase of a Ford Woody station wagon with a mattress in the back for $25. While living in these harsh conditions, he became the first Milwaukee RR lineman to earn a 2nd class commercial radio license. In the fall of 1957 in Perry, Iowa, he was wiring a new office and found lodging for himself and his black lab Elmer for $10 per week with “a nice dolly” Audrey Roberts and her husband, Walter. Less than a year later, Clint married their daughter, Esther, and continued working for the railroad, moving from Iowa to Butte to Canton, South Dakota, to Tacoma, and eventually to Deer Lodge in 1966. His career with the Milwaukee RR ended in 1980 as the company closed their Pacific Extension. During his time in Deer Lodge, Clint was active in the Sons of Norway, and took his family on many trips, piling the kids into the station wagon and going to see family and national parks. Clint began his own business, Froke Communications, and did a wide variety of jobs involving wiring, radio, and phone systems. He and Esther traveled around the country in an old motor home visiting family and historical sites and playing cribbage in tournaments. Seven years after Esther died in 2009, his home burned, but he kept up his spirits and remained active in the Deer Lodge Veterans Honor Guard, St. John’s Lutheran Church, the senior citizen centers in Deer Lodge, Anaconda, and Butte, and Deer Lodge Christian Men. He was late for nearly every engagement but faithfully attended and contributed as needed.
Clint was preceded in death by his wife Esther, and his brothers, Herm, Bud, Arnie, and Vern. He is survived by his younger sister, Ruth Lowery of Watertown, South Dakota; his four children, Steve of Deer Lodge, Clint D. of Walla Walla, Washington, Connie (Scot Akers) of Homer, Alaska, and Heidi (Bruce Klick) of Simms, Montana; and his grandchildren, Leslie, Landon, and Conner Klick and McKenzie, John, and Madison Akers.
The family would like to thank the wonderful staff of The Crest nursing home for their excellent care and rehabilitation services and The Springs assisted living for their hospitality toward Clint during his short residency. Tusen takk.
Clint had requested Christian burial, and his funeral will be held later this spring at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Deer Lodge with burial taking place at Hillcrest Cemetery. A date is not yet set.