Roy Exum: God Could Use You…

Sunday, April 20, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

In the spring of 1968, this just before pro golfer Billy Casper would win six tournaments that year and be the leading money winner on the tour, the wildly-popular “Buffalo Bill” was in Japan playing some off-season tournaments. He was asked if he would like to visit some American soldiers who had been seriously wounded and Casper, ever the gentleman, said of course.

As he melted at the sight of America’s youngest heroes who were missing limbs and were horribly disfigured at the height of the Viet Nam war, he noticed one soldier who hadn’t moved. The doctor whispered this particular young Marine would probably die but Billy, the size of his heart best evidenced by the fact five of his 11 children are adopted, walked to where he could whisper in the wounded warrior’s ear: “God could use you today … don’t give up.”

That’s the story Clebe McClary told to his neighbor over a year ago in Pawley’s Island, S.C. Clebe, a phenomenal motivational speaker who has been in Chattanooga numerous times, happened to be talking that singular afternoon to Jay Haas, who played in 22 Masters tournaments as a professional. Haas asked Clebe if he remembered the golfer’s name who had given him a life-saving pep talk and Clebe answered, “Billy Casper … did you ever know him?”

Haas just smiled and nodded. “I had just about given up,” Clebe told his neighbor. “My arm had been blown off, my left eye was gone and I wanted to die. I think I’d have died right there if not for him,” he continued and Haas immediately made an unspoken vow to himself.

Knowing the beloved Casper hasn’t ever missed being at the Masters since he won the fabled tournament’s green jacket in 1970, Haas arranged for Clebe to come to Augusta to ostensibly watch Jay’s son Bill play in this year’s event.

As they met at the big oak tree near the clubhouse where so many reunions take place every year, an 82-year-old man stepped from the shadows and walked towards Clebe and Jay. Casper and McClary hadn’t seen each other or talked in 46 years, but each has thought of the other often. As the two men embraced Billy, in the same quiet tone he used long ago one day in Japan, told Clebe, “Don’t let go till you want to let go…” McClary openly sobbed at the sound of Casper’s voice.

In a moving article that just appeared in GolfWeek, writer Jim McCabe wrote the two men “hugged and hugged and hugged,” the warm embrace lasting five minutes. Everybody who helped arrange the reunion wept openly. “We all just cried our eyes out. You never know what effect you are going to have on another human being,” said Casper’s daughter, Julia Cervantes, as she stood with her mother and her uncle, the delighted Bob Goalby who ironically won at Augusta in 1968.

McClary, who hardly needed to apologize for his raw emotions, told Casper how proud he was to have heeded the pro’s advice, “to stay strong and find faith in God,” which is something coming from a man who earned both the Silver Star and Bronze Star at a huge price. “My guardian angel,” Clebe said as he pointed to the still spry Casper.

Isn’t it funny how such things unfold? “I was recently asked how I wanted to be remembered,” Casper told the golf writer, “and I told him, ‘I want to be remembered for how I loved my fellow man.’” McClary is the same way. The Marine’s business card reads, “I am just a nobody, that wants to tell everybody, about somebody, that can save anybody.”

* * *

AN EASTER THOUGHT

“Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master.

“Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher

“Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.

“Had no army, yet kings feared Him.

“He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.

“He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.

“He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.”

--Author unknown.

royexum@aol.com


Billy Casper and Clebe McClary greet one another at this year's Masters' tournament 46 years after the golfer encouraged the critically-wounded Marine.
Billy Casper and Clebe McClary greet one another at this year's Masters' tournament 46 years after the golfer encouraged the critically-wounded Marine.
- Photo2 by Julia Cervantes, (Billy Casper's daughter)

Are You A Sheep Or A Wolf?

This last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique four day survival course that was instructed by some of our military’s finest from the U.S. Special Forces, Navy Seals and Delta Force.  One of my good friends, a veteran major of the U.S. Army Special Forces, developed the unique survival course along with several other elite U.S. military professionals.  ... (click for more)

No More Immigrants Till Our Veterans Are Taken Care Of

From the news today, "A 76-year-old veteran committed suicide on Sunday in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, where he had been a patient, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.  "Peter A. Kaisen, of Islip, was pronounced dead after he shot himself outside Building 92, the nursing home at ... (click for more)

Maryville Police Department's Kenny Moats Was The Officer Slain Thursday

Officer Kenny Moats of the Maryville Police Department was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call on Thursday.  Officer Moats was with the department for over nine years and was currently serving as a drug enforcement agent. Assistant Commissioner David Purkey said, "It is with heavy heart that I express my condolences to the family and friends of ... (click for more)

Auto Burglary Thwarted In Bradley County

A man has been arrested in Bradley County, after attempting to steal a vehicle. On Thursday, Deputy Jessica Morgan observed a silver truck in a church parking lot on South Lee Highway. While checking the premises, Dep. Morgan observed a male wearing a black tank top and red shorts exiting the rear window of the cab into the bed of the truck. Once the suspect noticed Dep. Morgan, ... (click for more)

Sale Creek Storms Past Central, 3-0, In Volleyball Action

Despite playing short-handed, Sale Creek’s once-beaten Lady Panthers made short work of Central, 3-0, Thursday night in high school volleyball action at Central High School. The Lady Panthers sprinted to their 11 th win in 12 matches this season by whipping Central 25-21, 25-13, 25-8 in the non-district matchup. “We played well today,” Sale Creek coach Debbie Hill said. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Central Inducts Five Alums into Hall of Fame Tonight

Five Chattanooga Central High School star student-athletes will be inducted into the Central Sports Hall of Fame tonight prior to the Central-Soddy Daisy football game. The five former student athletes are: Steve Arnold (1972, track and field), Gina Brooks (1985, softball), Steve Carroll (1966, football), Rick Duncan (1971, baseball), Gene Hall (1952, boxing). Gene ... (click for more)