Lt. Col. Clifton R. Toepperwein, USAF, (Ret.) passed away on Friday, February 24, 2012. He was born in Boerne, Texas, the son of Rudolph and Alma Toepperwein on March 8, 1921. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Lester L. and Marion B. Toepperwein, and his sisters, Elsie Pearl Wales and Verda Mae Pue.
Clifton graduated from Boerne High School and attended Southwest Texas State College prior to entering the U. S. Army Air Corps soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He received his pilot wings at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, TX. He married Georgia Lovelady June 2, 1943 in Pocatello, Idaho. He had found his two greatest loves: flying and Georgia. Still honeymooners, Clifton and Georgia walked to a friend’s one cloudless, moonlit night. Georgia exclaimed, “Just look at that moon!” Clif’s romantic reply? “What a night for flying!”
In August, Clifton was sent to the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group of the 5th Air Force. Besides being aircraft commander, he served as squadron operations officer and acting commanding officer to the 529th Bomb Squadron. He was a decorated combat veteran awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, WWII Medal and the Victory Medal.
Upon returning stateside, Clifton was stationed at Westover AFB in Massachusetts. From there he had the honor of flying in the bomber formation over Washington, D.C. for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral. Clifton’s aircraft was hit by another plane in the formation and a section of his plane’s tail landed on the White House lawn!
Clifton spent three years in Germany during the Army of Occupation where he participated in the Berlin Air Lift. Clifton was a kind and generous man, always the first to help friends, neighbors and even strangers. On one occasion in Germany, he had the opportunity to meet Charles Lindburg. Clifton picked up the famous hitch-hiker giving him a ride onto the post where he was due to perform an inspection.
Upon returning to the USA, Clifton was assigned to the Strategic Air Command at Carswell AFB, TX for B-36 training and later transferred to Fairchild, AFB, Washington. There he was aircraft commander of a B-36 bomber, served on the 92nd Bomb Wing Standardization Boare and was responsible for writing the curriculum to train new air crews! In 1956, he became commander of a B-52 bomber stationed, once again, at Westover AFB, MA. Later he was officer in Charge of the 99th Bomb Wing Command Post there. A procedure developed by Clifton and his men allowed them to locate all aircraft assigned to Clifton’s base in just seconds…No other unit had ever been able to do that as fast on any other base. Clifton’s group’s plan was the basis of security procedures used even to this day. The last four years at Westover, Clifton supervised maintenance personnel. He retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Col in 1963 after 21 years of service.
He served well, receiving numerous awards for his resolve, bravery, dedication and hard work. During his service, he became qualified to fly 14 different aircraft, ranging from the little open-cockpit Primary Trainer 19 of his youth to the B-52. He also had a front seat on history—he helped the Army Air Corps propellers grow to Air Force jets. He was a good soldier, and loved his country.
Clifton was 42 and retired from the Air Force, but retirement wasn’t to begin just yet. He and Georgia had four children. Lynn was starting college in the fall. Gary would be in High School and Robin and Kim would be in elementary school. Clifton launched a second career working as an auditor for American Mutual Insurance Company in RI. He moved the family to East Greenwich where they made their home for 19 years retiring in 1985. Clifton and Georgia returned home to old friends, family and church in Boerne, TX.
Clifton was a loyal friend and humble person. His word, strength of character, and leadership gained him the respect of all who knew him. He was a loyal and helpful friend maintaining lifetime friendships and making new friends to the very end of his life. He enjoyed a good story and told good tales himself. He was a fierce game competitor loving chess, dominoes, and bridge.
Clifton was a member of the First United Methodist Church from his boyhood, through his careers and into retirement and faithfully attended and supported the Genesis Sunday School Class. He was a member and volunteer of Boerne Fellowship, AARP, the Rainbow Senior Center, the Retired Officers Association and the VFW. Clifton and Georgia celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary June 2, 2011. Besides his wife Georgia, Clifton is survived by four children, and their spouses: Lynn and Dale Rogers of Levant, ME, Gary and Carolyn Toepperwein of Keller, TX, Robin L. Toepperwein of Hawthorne, CA and Kim and John Marchwicki of Boerne, TX; ten grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by sisters-in-law, Marilyn Toepperwein of San Antonio and Kathleen Toepperwein of Houston. Clifton will be remembered by especially dear friends, the Klobedans family of Boerne, TX
Visitation will be on Monday, March 5, 2012 at Vaughan’s Funeral Home. The family will greet friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Graveside Services with Full Military Honors will be on Tuesday, March 6 at 10:00 a.m. at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. A Celebration of Clifton’s life will follow at 12:00 Noon at the First United Methodist Church in Boerne, with Pastor Kim Burke, officiating. The family will then visit with family and friends in the Family Life Center. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that Memorial Gifts be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or a charity of your choice. Funeral Arrangements entrusted to Vaughan’s Funeral Home of Boerne.