, 88, greets Desiree Reichenbacher and Karen Metzler, right, on a trail north of 54th Avenue just off 86th Street in Johnston
...Clarkson, a longtime Johnston resident and developer, attends the same church as Reichenbacher and Metzler.
The Johnston parks board is considering naming a park or trail for Clarkson
GARY FANDEL/THE REGISTER\uFEFFLew Clarkson, 88, walks on a trail north of 54th Avenue near his
home in Johnston
.Clarkson was a founder of the Johnston Cub Scouts and Johnston Little League, and helped incorporate the city.
...For Ron Nielsen the question isn't whether a Johnston amenity should be named for longtime resident and real estate developer Lew Clarkson.
...Nielsen, of Johnston, wrote to the city's parks board last month to request that a park or trail be named for Clarkson, who helped incorporate the city in 1969.
Nielsen has known Clarkson
, 88, for many years through Johnston Kiwanis and other groups.
Nielsen called Clarkson
"an ambassador for Johnston
for many, many years," citing Clarkson's presence in real estate as well as his devotion to the families of Johnston, evidenced through his founding of Johnston Cub Scouts
and the Johnston Little League
"He and Margaret raised five sons here, and Lew
has had a tremendous love of sports all his life," Nielsen said.
grateful for Nielsen's accolades and honored to be considered for recognition, but stressed that he
has never expected an official "thank-you" for his
"Margaret and I have a lot to be thankful for in spite of where we are now," Clarkson
said, adding that he
is "brokenhearted" after having placed his
wife in a nursing home recently.
"I've always said that I've been able to be successful because I love Johnston and Johnston
loves me," he
said."I can't imagine being in a more wonderful city."
Nielsen said Clarkson
, who owns several real estate offices, still puts on a coat and tie each morning and goes to the office.
They were going to have to cancel the trip until Lew
and Margaret stepped in and gave the choir the other half.It wasn't a loan - it was a gift, and those kids got to go to Europe."
Nielsen said Clarkson
often provided pre-game meals for the high school football and basketball teams, and he
started an arrangement with a Johnston
ice cream store by which Little League players could have all the free ice cream they wanted and Clarkson
would pay the tab at the end of each month.
never talked about what he did, and he never asked for anything in return," Nielsen said.
...Clarkson was born in southern Iowa and raised on Des Moines' east side.
After graduating from East High School, he
earned a Purple Heart in World War II before returning to Des Moines and beginning a career in real estate.His
job took him to Johnston
, where he
has lived in the same house on Northwest 86th Street for more than 50 years.
"In those days, 86th was just a gravel road; about 25 cars drove on it each day and I knew 20 of them," Clarkson
said."Now, it's 1,000 times that and no one knows anyone.But that growth is good for the city."Clarkson
had the city's growth in mind when he
began working with a group of local leaders to incorporate Johnston
in 1969."I had built the first commercial building in Johnston, on Merle Hay Road, and we had Brenton Bank and the post office in there," he said.
envisions a continued bright future for Johnston
"The city leaders are outstanding people who cooperate with business," he
said."That's the key."Clarkson
said that although he
never expected a Johnston amenity to be named for him, he'd like to see that happen.
"It would be a thrill for Margaret and me and for the family," he