The Rev. Ward Clabuesch, Class of 1953, died on December 26, 2018 at the age of 91 after a long illness. Born in Bad Axe, MI, on June 1, 1927 Clabuesch was raised in Pigeon, MI, a small farming community in the Thumb area. After high school he entered the US Navy and served in the Pacific theater for 18 months, most notably as a cook on an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) where he cooked for 40 men and baked 20 loaves of bread a day - mixed by hand in two batches! Preparing wonderful meals became a life-long hobby. During his time in the service he discovered the Episcopal Church.
In the fall of 1946 he entered Michigan State University and completed a degree in history. In 1950 he entered General. As a seminarian he worked in London, England, for one summer at St. Paul’s, London Docks, and another summer he did pastoral clinical training at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. On June 27, 1953 he was ordained to the Diaconate and on December 26, 1953 he was ordained to the Priesthood - both at All Saints’ Church in Pontiac, MI. As if by design, he died on the 65th anniversary of his ordination.
Clabuesch served at All Saints as assistant for two years, and then was elected Rector of St. Paul’s, Corunna, where he served for six years. In 1961, he was called to be Rector of St. Luke’s Church in Allen Park, and in 1971, called as Associate Rector to Christ Church, Dearborn. In 1976 he became the Rector of Christ Church, Dearborn, where he served until his “retirement” in 1992. He continued to serve in the Diocese of Michigan as both a supply and interim priest. He also served at St. Gregory’s in Boca Raton, FL, in the winter months for a number of years. Ultimately, he ended his career where it began, at All Saints’ Church, Pontiac. He celebrated his last Eucharist there December 29, 2013 - the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
Throughout his career, Clabuesch was active on many Diocese of Michigan commissions and committees, including the Music Commission, the Ecumenical Commission, the Education Committee, the Future Planning Committee, and the Standing Committee. He also served as a Dean of the Westside Convocation and was on the board of the Whitaker School of Theology. Always community-minded he served as Chapter Chairman of the American Red Cross in Shiawassee County and in Dearborn as Chairman of the March of Dimes, member of the board of Michigan Cancer Society, member of the Human Subjects Review Board at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Oakwood Hospital. He was a founding member of the Board of the Dearborn Pastoral Center, and a member of the Dearborn Religious Alliance. He was a faithful Rotarian for several decades. When he returned to All Saints’ in 1994, he became involved in many of their community endeavors, but his favorite was Bound Together, an after school tutoring and meal program that is still going strong today.
Preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Bertha Clabuesch, his brother E.J. Clabuesch, and his sister Dorothea Porter, Fr. Clabuesch is survived by his partner Charles Sajewski, his daughter Anne Campbell (Mark) of Commerce Twp., MI, his son Stephen Clabuesch (Cecilia) of Santa Cruz, CA, his grandchildren, Kyle Baldwin, Sean Baldwin, and Piper Shin, and his great granddaughter Emma Baldwin. “Uncle Ward” is also survived by many nieces and nephews who always looked to him for wisdom, guidance, and a good story!
A Memorial Service was held on January 26, 2019 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 171 W. Pike St., Pontiac, MI.