February 5, 1929
Clarence J. Lanka was born on February 5, 1929 in Arthur County Nebraska where he grew up and lived until age 20 when he moved, along with his parents and 3 brothers and 1 sister to Logan County Nebraska. They purchased the Cody Lake Ranch north of Stapleton, doubling the size of the ranch in Arthur County so that the sons might have an opportunity to raise cattle for a living. This was Clarence’s first and only ambition, ranching and caring for cattle and using horses for that purpose.
In 1952 Clarence was married to Judy Bakewell and together they raised four children: Dawn, Greg, Julie and John. In September 2017, they celebrated 65 years of marriage with nearly all of their children and spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren attending the celebration and a family reunion.
Clarence was drafted into the Army in 1954 at the end of the Korean War. He spent the following two years training in El Paso, Texas and serving in a Nike Missile Unit at Ft. Niagara, New York. During this time his brother, Elton Lanka and his father, Frank, operated the ranch, keeping a place for him when he returned home.
During his years in Arthur County and early on in Logan County, Clarence participated in the sport of tie-down roping and attended many local rodeos and roping events. His focus was always on working with and training good horses. As his family increased in size he no longer participated in competitive events. One of his greatest enjoyments in his retirement years has been helping his sons and neighbors with brandings and cattle moving projects. He continued riding and roping until age 88 and still owns his faithful horse, Cody, especially for the grandchildren to use.
Clarence served his community and his church on various boards during his active years in Logan County. He has always had a heart for the spiritual growth of young people including his own family and sponsored the youth group of First Presbyterian Church at Stapleton as well as teaching a Sunday school class for many years.
In his recent years of retirement, Clarence began a hobby of cleaning used horseshoes and welding a large variety of items from them for display at craft shows and similar events.
Clarence was born into a ranch family and from an early age he showed signs of a natural affinity for ranching and cowboying. He grew up caring for and feeding cattle, riding and breaking horses, putting up hay, fixing fences and all the other jobs that go with running a ranch.
As a young man he developed a talent for roping and especially liked calf roping. He participated in and placed in many local rodeos. His success was not limited to the rodeo arena but also included raising and training ranch and roping horses.
He has also worked at and developed his abilities in all aspects of working with, sorting and caring for cattle. He knows the best way to gather, drive and sort cattle horseback, to check and care for calving cows and knows the nutritional requirements of cattle during the various seasons of the year. It has always been important to him to develop good horses and to work cattle in a way that is the least stressful to the cattle.
Along the way he has acquired a reputation as being a good “any situation” roper and is especially consistent at heeling and dragging calves in a branding pen, a skill he still enjoys today.
He has also always been very willing to help younger people and kids with skills and tips about roping, ranching or working cattle and doing it the cowboy way.