|Dan Lufkin said of Bill Clede:
"His long and distinguished record of
service to the public is an inspiration to the media community he represents."
Bill Clede made a sweeping motion with his right hand: "You can
tell this is a newspaperman's desk." That's what one of his bosses says whenever he
goes past the office of the environmental editor of WTIC Outdoors.
The desk in the office at Broadcast House may be piled high but it's spotless like
the rest of the place when the voice for Connecticut's environment returns to his office
from frequent trips to check out pollution reported around the countryside the pile goes
down in a hurry.
Bill Clede is the Wethersfield voice for the outdoors on the air, and in the press
(The Hartford Times). He is also the author of more than 100 articles in national outdoor
interest magazines, for which he often takes the photographs used to illustrate them.
The work of the man who is the voice of the outdoors has won two major awards: in
1970 the Conservation Communicator of the Year from the Connecticut Wildlife Federation,
and on February 15, 1973, he won, as media representative, one of Connecticut's First
Environmental Awards for significant contributions to the improvement of the State's
environment. These awards were presented to 19 individuals and organizations at a ceremony
attended by more than 600 persons at the State Capitol. The award came from the State of
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Dan W. Lufkin, Commissioner, and was
presented by Governor Thomas Meskill.
Bill Clede's award-winning voice has the pleasant accent of Texas. The Long Star
State was the birthplace of Connecticut's five-star ecologist.
Born on November 26, 1927 in Fort Worth, Bill grew up during the early years in
Houston: "Dad was in the calculating machine business. He had been with Monroe and
went to Marchant., We went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1939 and were there about a year
when Dad was offer the choice of three districts. He chose Baltimore."
They were not in the city too long before Emile William Clede, the elder, moved his
family to a neighboring county. Here, in Riviera Beach, located on the shore, the junior
E. W. Clede, who was always called Bill, and started writing under the name of Bill,
developed a love for the water. The senior Clede lives in Riviera Beach today,
"Mother passed away five years ago."
Bill Clede attended Augusta Military Academy in Fort Defiance, Virginia, in the
beautiful Shanandoah Valley.
When WWII came Bill was "too young in years but looked old enough in size and
appearance." I chiseled on by birth date and went into the Navy."
In the Pacific, he served on an Attack Transport as a signalman in the 294th (Army)
signal outfit, a joint-assault signal company with about 600 men. He was one of 125 Navy
men attached to the unit.
The ship carried occupation troops over to the Philippines, left then off in Manila
then went up to Lingayen Gulf on the North-West coast of Lyzon, where they picked up the
combat troops who had captured the Philippines. To Japan. Taking rotating troops back to
the U.S. To the Philippines. Back to the U.S. Then Bill left the ship and the Navy with
his natural love of the water in no way impaired.
He owned a 14-foot Plover, a New England designed sail-boat, and sold it when he
went into the Navy. He has held papers to operate a boat of 15 gross tons carrying no more
than six passengers. This was a motorboat operators license valid in the navigable waters
of the U.S. "I don't think they issue them any more. Now they specify areas where you
Having not finished high school before he went into the Navy, Bill was able to take
an equivalency exam while in the Navy and when he came out he went to the University of
Maryland. "My ambition then was to be a psychiatrist. After one year of pre-med I
knew I wouldn't get into medical school so I majored in Spanish (having grown up in
Southeast Texas I was interested in the language) and minored in psychology and
criminology, and worked in law enforcement."
Married when he was in the Navy, Bill and his wife had a family of three boys by
the time he graduated from the University of Maryland. College days were also the days of
adventure with the 75-foot Coast Guard Patrol boat purchased by Bill, who faithfully
followed the Maritime Commission's Surplus List. "The boat cost $750. Has a square
wheel-house, but I'd buy the hull today. She had a weight [displacement] of 27 gross tons
and couldn't be run commercially. We had more fun on her than people. Out of college, I
went into the Air Force as a second Lieutenant and sold the boat. The last I heard she was
running out of Wilmington, North Carolina with a shrimp fleet."
Back Into Civilian Life
In the Air Force Bill was a member of the Air
Police. Out and into the civilian world he worked for a sporting-goods distributor in
Maryland and ran a shooting program. "That got me involved and I went to work for the
National Rifle Association (I and a guy from the Boy Scouts) setting up a training
department." He had always been interested in guns, as a young man in Texas. An
Oklahoma man started his interest in collecting. Bill believes that if you learn the right
way to handle guns you don't get into trouble. He gets calls from mothers asking what kind
of guns their sons should use for hunting and where they can learn how to handle them.
"My outside interests aren't all related to boating. I started out as a fisherman and
a hunter, An uncle on
|my mother's side got me started on that."
He also got a private license when he got out of the Air Force, "ASEL rating, single
engine land plane," though a weak muscle in one eye prevented his flying in the Air
Working with the National Rifle Association when the Hunter Safety program was
getting started, 1953-1957, he went to work for Winchester in New Haven in 1957 for the
shooting promotion department. He was there until 1962: "1962 proved to be a very
eventful year. Winchester did away with the Product Information Department. That also did
away with me. My mother had a stroke. And my wife divorced me."
Then doing free-lance writing for magazines:
"Free-lancing on a full-time basis is unemployed." In 1963 Bill went to work for
The Hartford Times as Outdoor Editor. "That lasted for one year. The paper as an
economy move and laid off six guys. I was the junior and my boss called me in and said,
`Instead of giving you the raise I'd planned to give you, you're fired.'"
Three months later he was hired back on column rate, $40-$50, as a contract
columnist. He was also writing for magazines.
"Heck, I'm not an ad man. I'm a news-writer," Bill told a friend who
insisted that he apply for that job at Marlin Firearms in New Haven in 1965. Giving in to
his friend he put in the application and went off to an outdoor writer's meeting.
1965 was a good year.
So was 1964. He was living in the Mark Twain Arms
Apartments on Farmington Avenue. Hartford. In the summer of 1964 he was in the laundry
room one day and met a girl who lived on the top floor, "It took me a month to get a
date with her. On Thanksgiving Day, 1965 we got married." Lois is a Connecticut girl,
whose family lives in Attawaugan, part of Killingly in Northeast Connecticut. Today the
Cledes live on Ridge Road, Wethersfield. "In the low-rent end of Ridge Road."
Bill Clede, the news-writer who said he wasn't an ad man got the job at Marlin, so
he wrote for the newspaper, worked for Marlin, wrote for magazines and walked into WTIC
one day and told them that they needed an Outdoor program. "Ross Miller, the Program
Manager, agreed with me." He started training a man to take over his job at Marlin.
"I was getting so much good material I had a syndicated once-a-week show on radio, an
outdoor show for Marlin which was carried on 114 stations. In the meantime I was trying to
work back into full-time journalism."
In June of 1970 he left Marlin and started seven programs a week for WTIC. He is
still with The Times, doing three columns a week: "Thursday and Sunday in the sports
section and a feature in "Accent," the Times Sunday supplement. In December,
1971 I came on staff at WTIC as Outdoor and Environmental Director at which point I cut
back the work at the Times."
Eight programs a week are part of his radio schedule the year around, plus ski
reports during the winter (the latter given by Bill and Arnold Dean) plus covering outdoor
and environmental news for the news department. "So my TV appearances are mainly on
Special programs for TV have been the half-hour program on hunting and conservation
presented just before the hunting season, a shorter documentary, a report on Gypsy Moths
that ran last July and some programs for "Your Community" on TV, Sundays at
"It was Earth Day 1970 that made people aware of what huntsmen and fishermen
have long been aware of. It is because of this general awareness of environmental
problems, that this has become the environmental era. `Field and Stream' magazine in the
early 1920's, published an article entitled `Is the Statue of Liberty Standing in a
Cess-Pool?' so interest has generally been recognized for a long time." Bill said.
Most of the calls he gets are favorable or constructive. While I was interviewing him in
his office at Broadcast Plaza he had a call from a blind man who wanted to go to a ski
resort. Bill gave him some ideas and told the man not to give up the idea of learning to
ski. There is a group in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania where they teach the blind to ski.
"Do you ski?" I asked. "A guy called in one day when I was on
Mike-Line and asked that. I've been in the snow-plow class for nine years. I hunt fish and
ski when I have time. When I started covering skiing I took lessons in the Natur Tehnik
(then getting notice) for this I spent a couple of days in Vermont. Another couple of days
in New Hampshire on the American Technique. Then to Canada to find out about the Canadian
Technique. So my technique is an amalgamation of what I call American Natural
Side-Straddle Flop. Not enough time on a regular basis...Oh, I look great on the ski
slopes. Then I start to move."
Arnold Dean told me the story of the ski trip he, Doug Webster, Al Terzi and Bill
took to Southington. Al was doing a ski show on WTIC-TV at the time and the men thought
they ought to check the ski scene. Down the slope at Southington Terzi, Dean, Webster.
Looking back up the trail they saw Bill Clede perpendicular to the bottom. Huge groves of
trees on either side of the trail. "Hmmm," said Doug Webster, "I see that
Bill has cleverly disguised himself as a birch clump."
A long-time member and former president of the Outdoor Writer's Association of
America Bill may be in the snow-plow ski-wise, but he's "making gates" in a good
many other areas. By March 9th he hopes to have a ham operators license. It's a field he
has been interested in since college days.