"Nevada Marriage Index, 1956-2005," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VVYN-GR1 : accessed 10 February 2016), Clarence J Baca and Anna Lou Wernli, 08 Nov 1994; from "Nevada, Marriage Index, 1956-2005," database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2007); citing Clark, Nevada, United States, County Book 1110, p. C579423, archive film number 973084, Nevada State Health Division, Carson City, and Clark County Marriage Bureau, Las Vegas.
"Texas Birth Certificates, 1903-1935," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X2T6-27C : accessed 10 February 2016), Clarence John Baca, 09 Feb 1920; citing Fayetteville, Fayette, Texas, United States, certificate 8437, Bureau of Vital Statistics. State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 4,523,210.
Clarence John Baca February 9, 1920 - November 30, 2015 Obituary
Clarence was born on February 9, 1920 to John R and Marie (Zelesky) Baca in Fayetteville where his parents operated a grocery store. Following the long standing family tradition of music, he learned the drums. Clarence joined his father's band The John R Baca Band and played his first paid job at age 13. He fondly remembered getting paid 25 cents for the gig. This was the beginning of his love for polka music for the rest of his life. He graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1939 with a class of 20 and was proud to have attended Texas A & M University.
His college career was interrupted by the war so Clarence never received his AGGIE ring, but was one of the most devout Aggies you would ever meet. He worked in Todd's Shipyards in Houston, then joined the Navy in 1943. He said when he asked if he wanted Army or Navy, because of his 2 years of infantry at A & M, he said Army and they said ok Navy! This was very typical of Clarence who would go along with whatever others thought would be best for the good of the whole. His LST was hit by a kamikaze in the Pacific an experience he felt very fortunate to have survived and remained in contact with other surviving shipmates for many years to come.
Returning to civilian life after the war, Clarence began a 37 year career with the United States Post Office, while continuing to play with the John R Baca Band. Clarence began his own band in 1960, playing until 1998. Clarence along with Maurice Hafrnik, and Raymond Zapatel formed the first SPJST Lodge concert band in Houston. High points in his career include four recordings (Corn Cockle Polka, Farmer's Waltz, Grasshopper Polka, and Baca's Waltz); playing the Rice Hotel in Houston and The Buccaneer in Galveston; playing Houston dance halls like Bill Mraz, the Shamrock; standing gigs with the SPJST Lodge 88; plus several radio appearances.
Clarence lived a full life full of family, music, and dancing. He danced to his favorites at his 95th birthday party at Lodge 88. He passed away peacefully surrounded by family with his polka music playing. He was remembered for autographing CDs with "Keep dancing the Polka!" – Clarence Baca. There is a u-tube video clip of him sitting in with the SPJST Lodge 88 band and playing the drums at his 90th birthday.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 20 years Lou Wernli Baca (who passed away in October, 2015), his parents, John and Marie Baca, his brother Lee Edward Baca, and his first wife of 49 years Pasty. Surviving relatives include sister, Rose Marie Baca Rohde and husband Jim of Fayetteville; Step children, Russell Wernli and wife Joni, Cheryl Wernli Angell and husband Steve, Mark Wernli and wife Lee and Troy Wernli wife Karen.
Popo Clarence is also survived and lovingly remembered by grandchildren: Christi Wernli Herring & husband Jim, Stacy Wernli Ellis & husband Rob, Jamie Wernli McClellan & husband Mike, Elise Angell Cohen & husband David, Kellie Angell Northington & husband Wes, Ashley Angell and fiancé Stuart Ellerbe, Tyler Wernli, Colby Wernli, Charley Wernli and Ian Roe. He was also dearly loved by 8 great grandchildren as well as Neices & Nephews: Alicia Needham and husband Jim of Corpus Christie; John Baca of Brenham; Shannan Gerik and husband Tom of Columbus; Kim Kovar and husband Randy of La Grange; Jimmy Rohde and wife Donna of Fayetteville and Roxane and husband Doak of Columbus.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Fayetteville Museum, SPJST Museum in Temple or SPJST Lodge 88 in Clarence's name would be appreciated.
Family and friends will be celebrating Clarence's life at the SPJST Lodge, 1435 Beall St., from 1:00 pm to 3:00pm on Friday. All those who attended or were unable to attend the funeral are invited.
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