Clifford M. Van Ess, 100, of Sheboygan, passed away on Monday, August 28, 2023. He was born on June 1, 1923 in Sheboygan to the late George and Hilda (Leonhardt) Van Ess. Cliff attended Franklin and South Side Junior High Schools. He graduated from Sheboygan Central High School in 1941. Cliff spent his entire life in the Sheboygan area except for a three-year period while serving in the military. He was united in marriage to Mavis A. Hansen on October 19, 1943 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; she preceded him in death on April 12, 2006.
Cliff led an extremely diverse life. Having an ever-ready smile and positive attitude enabled him to accomplish seemingly impossible projects by himself and also, to interact positively with others at all times. He managed to enjoy his life immensely—an exception being when circumstances early in his life took him to Europe and created situations when his wellbeing was at considerable risk. During this period, he earned—and was very proud of earning the Bronze Star Medal with “V” for Valor; the Combat Infantryman Badge; and the four battle stars that adorn the service ribbon. The service ribbon was awarded for the European campaigns he participated in during World War II, while an Infantryman of the battle tested 75th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. Upon returning home in late December of 1945, he was reunited with his wife and finally met his 14-month-old son, Richard, who was born within hours of Cliff being deployed to Europe to serve his country.
His positive outlook on life enabled him to enjoy many years of the camaraderie and fellowship that the sports of bowling and golf enabled him to enjoy. The Sheboygan Bowling Association honored him by electing him into their Hall of Fame in 2003 at the North Bowl Hall, which the Wisconsin State Bowling Association had already done several years earlier. He proudly and diligently served as Secretary of his bowling league for 35 years and his golfing league for 10 years. That same positive attitude also served Cliff well as a youngster during the years of the Great Depression, his time in military service, as well as his experiences in the work-a-day world in which he spent 70 very stimulating fulfilling years, before finally succumbing to the lure of full retirement on November 30, 2010.
Cliff and his family also were honored to have been charter members of Bethany Reformed Church.
During his working years, Cliff held responsible positions in the fields of accounting and information technology, all of which were made possible by his determination, work ethic, honesty, integrity and ambition. Cliff became known as a workaholic. His enthusiastic approach to solving problems encountered as he gravitated to employment opportunities where abundant challenges existed. His last position spanned 34 years of his career life.
Later in life his circle of friends included the members of the Early Morning Senior Golfers of the Town and Country Golf Club, with whom he enjoyed his summer mornings on the golf course, and “coffee at McDonald’s” after golf. In the winter months that same group continued to meet for “coffee at McDonald’s”. Also, and most significantly Cliff enjoyed spending time with his very special friend, Ann Kovacic, who he met later in life; and who as he put it, “MADE MY LIFE WORTH LIVING AGAIN”. Many enjoyable hours were spent by Cliff enjoying her radiant personality, sense of humor and quick wit. He considered her to be his “Special Forever Friend” and always being very appreciative of his good fortune of obtaining their friendship.
Cliff will be remembered by his admonishment to his friends to not consider themselves, “fully dressed every morning until they had a smile on their faces,” followed up with a mischievous grin, then further advice to: “keep that smile on your face all day and everyone will wonder just what you are up to”. The presence of Cliff will be greatly missed by all.
Cliff was preceded in death by his parents, his loving wife, Mavis, with whom he enjoyed every day of their nearly 63 years of wedlock. He is also preceded in death by his brother Lowell (Lucille) Van Ess; his nephew-in-Law Dale Winkelhorst; his daughter-in-law Rosemary (Richard) Van Ess; his aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.
Cliff is survived by his son Richard Van Ess; two daughters, Linda (William) Dunne and Sandra (Greg Mahan) Van Ess; three grandsons, Benjamin Dunne, Jeffrey Dunne, Lane Dunne; one granddaughter Christina Hayenga. He is also survived by one nephew Dale (Audry) Van Ess; three nieces Deborah (David) Schmidt, Dawn Winkelhorst and Denise (Jack) Gabrielse.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Zimmer Westview Funeral & Care Center for their superior care and concern. Also, the staff at Pine Haven Nursing Home for their daily efforts in caring for the needs of Cliff during his time in their care.
Family and friends may pay their respects on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 from 10:00AM to 11:00AM at Zimmer Westview Funeral & Cremation Care Center, W2132 Garton Road, Howards Grove. A memorial service will follow at 11:00AM, with Pastor Randy Blumer officiating. Military funeral honors will follow the service. He will be placed at Sunrise Memorial Garden Mausoleum.