Clarence “Kelly” Donald Salmela, age 67, of Silver Lake, passed away Monday, May 30, 2016, at his home.
He was born May 28, 1949, in Cokato, to Richard and Fannie (Wanha) Salmela. Clarence grew up in Cokato, and was baptized and confirmed at the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church, north of town.
In 1967, Clarence graduated from Cokato High School.
He joined the US Army March 27, 1969. After basic training at Ft. Bragg, NC, he served with the 1st Air Cavalry Division, 8th Cavalry, and served for 14 months in Vietnam as a combat medic.
He received the Bronze Star with “V” for heroism, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal with two Battle Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Combat Medic Badge, 1st Cavalry Division Airmobile Vietnam Combat Certificate, Certificate of Appreciation from President Nixon, and Certificate of Appreciation from General Westmoreland.
After his service, Clarence came back to Cokato, where he tended bar at the Troll Inn until becoming the maintenance supervisor at HTI in Hutchinson.
He married Marilyn Rozeske, and to this union, two children Melissa and Chad were born. The family lived in rural Silver Lake.
Clarence retired in the late ‘90s. He enjoyed fishing, watching western movies, tractor pulls, and taking drives.
Clarence is survived by special friend, Gloriann Bastin of Silver Lake; daughter Melissa (Joseph) Barsness of Lakeville; and son Chad (Sarah) Salmela of St. Cloud, their son Peyton and one on the way, Sophia.
He is further survived by sisters, Margaret “Muggs” (Leonard) Kieser of Winsted, Verna Quale of Buffalo, and brother Clifford (Bertha) Salmela of Reno, NV. Nieces and nephews other relatives and many friends.
Clarence was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Fannie; a brother, Jim; grandson Caleb; brother-in-law Dennis Quale; and sister-in-law Darlene and Niece Penny.
Memorial service 7 p.m. Monday, Swanson Peterson Funeral Home, Cokato. Gathering of family and friends 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the funeral home prior to service. Inurnment at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery at a later date.